Dr. Jacqueline Gerhart: Irritable bowel syndrome
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Box 8058, Madison, WI 53708. We cannot reply to all letters. Dear Dr. Gerhart: I was told by my doctor that I have IBS, but when I check online for information about IBS, I see it can mean either irritable bowel syndrome or inflammatory bowel syndrome. Are they the same thing? Dear Reader: Unfortunately in the medical field, we often use acronyms without clearly describing them. Usually, when a general medical doctor uses the term IBS, he is referring to irritable bowel syndrome. This is not the same as inflammatory bowel syndrome, which is more correctly termed inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD. Both can cause diarrhea, cramping, bloating, abdominal pain, decreased appetite, nausea and bowel irregularity. Both can have symptoms that come and go, and both can run in families. But lets talk about the differences. Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is very common, occurring in 10 to 15 percent of the population, and is twice more common in women.