Q: How is IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) different from IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease)?

A: Even though both IBS and IBD can both be debilitating, there are several differences. IBD is an autoimmune disorder that causes swelling and ulcerations (sores) in the bowel. Whereas, IBS involves problems with motility (how the bowel moves contents through our intestines) and sensitivity (how the brain interprets sensations in the bowel). Symptoms of IBS come and go and can sometime disappear altogether whereas IBD is a chronic disease that does not disappear.

Q: Who is affected by irritable bowel syndrome?

  • Irritable bowel syndrome occurs in both children and adults.
  • Girls are affected by the disorder slightly more often than boys.
  • 10 to 15 percent of school-aged children and adolescents have symptoms of functional abdominal pain to the point of interrupting their daily normal life.
  • There is no known gene that causes irritable bowel syndrome, but the disorder does seem to occur more often in families where either a child or a parent has the disorder.

Q:  How common is IBS in children?

A: Limited information is available about the number of children with IBS. Older studies have reported prevalence rates for recurrent abdominal pain in children of 10 to 20 percent.

Q: Does stress play a role in IBS?

A: Yes, stress can play a part in IBS. Some kids with IBS tend to be particularly sensitive to stress and emotional upsets. Because nerves in the colon are linked to the brain, stress and conflict (things like family problems, moving, taking tests, going on vacation, and trauma) can affect how well the colon functions.

Q: Is there a cure for IBS?

A: Though there is no cure for IBS, the symptoms can be treated with a combination of the following:

  • changes in eating
  • diet and nutrition
  • Medications
  • Probiotics
  • therapies for mental health problems such as talk therapy and hypnotherapy

REMINDER: This information is intended to provide general information and should not be used to base a diagnosis or treatment. Please consult the doctors about your specific condition and the approach for treatment.