5 IBD Myths

Patient Expert

There is a lot of information out there on the Internet these days and some of it is good and some of it is well, not too correct. I thought this week we might look at some of the myths, or misinformation that's out there about IBD.

  1. IBD and IBS are the same thing. Nope, they're not. Some of the symptoms are similar and even some of the treatments overlap but they are not one in the same. Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) consists of two illnesses - Crohn's disease and Ulcerative colitis.

According to the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA); Ulcerative colitis is a chronic disease of the colon, or large intestine. The disease is marked by inflammation and ulceration of the colon mucosa, or innermost lining. Tiny open sores, or ulcers, form on the surface of the lining, where they bleed and produce pus and mucus. Because the inflammation makes the colon empty frequently, symptoms typically include diarrhea (sometimes bloody) and often crampy abdominal pain.

Crohn's disease is characterized as a chronic disorder that causes inflammation of the digestive or gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Although it can involve any area of the GI tract from the mouth to the anus, it most commonly affects the small intestine and/or colon.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a functional disorder of the intestines. The abdominal pain type is usually described in a patient as either diarrhea-predominant (IBS-D), constipation-predominant (IBS-C) or IBS with alternating stool pattern (IBS-A). Unlike IBD, irritable bowel syndrome doesn't cause inflammation or changes in bowel tissue or increase your risk of colorectal cancer. In many cases, IBS can be managed by altering your diet, lifestyle and stress.

  1. IBD is caused by stress. No, again. At this time it is uncertain what causes IBD, although there is some evidence that it can be passed on genetically from parent to child. But we do know that stress is not the cause of IBD.
  2. Colonics are good for treating IBD. Actually colonics may do far more harm than good, especially in people with IBD. The intestines have a specific combination of good bacteria and bad bacteria in them that help our GI tract to function. Colonics can wash away these bacteria causing the balance of good and bad bacteria to be off kilter. It can be very hard to reestablish this good vs. bad bacteria balance.
  3. If you have IBD you are most certainly gluten/wheat intolerant. Not necessarily. Some people who are diagnosed with IBD find out they have Celiac disease as well, or instead of IBD. According to the Celiac Disease Foundation celiac disease is a lifelongautoimmune intestinal disorder, found in individuals who are genetically susceptible. Damage to the mucosal surface of the small intestine is caused by an immunologically toxic reaction to the ingestion of gluten and interferes with the absorption of nutrients.
Some people with IBD find even though they are not gluten intolerant that reducing their intake of gluten-predominant foods can help to reduce some of their IBD symptoms.
  1. Everyone with IBD will eventually require surgery or get colon cancer. Again, not true. According to CCFA, two-thirds to three-quarters of Crohn's disease patients will eventually undergo surgery as part of the therapeutic management of their illness. While 25% to 40% of UC patients will eventually require surgery. Some UC patients elect to have surgery to cope with chronic, severe symptoms.

    Regarding colon cancer: It has been shown that people who have IBD have a higher chance of getting colon cancer. But, this does not mean that all IBD patients will get colon cancer. Plus, today's colon cancer screening methods means that more people are able to get diagnosed earlier and be successfully treated.