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What disorders may be mistaken for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?

Dr. William B. Salt, MD
Gastroenterologist

There are several different disorders and diseases that the doctor needs to consider in what is called "differential diagnosis." These are conditions that could be masquerading as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and that require proper diagnosis and treatment:

  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Diverticulosis
  • Medications affecting bowel pattern (constipating or diarrhea-causing agents)
  • Gastrointestinal infections
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Endocrine disorders and tumors (thyroid disorders most commonly)
  • Microscopic colitis
  • Collagenous colitis
  • Chronic intestinal idiopathic pseudo obstruction (very rare)
  • Bacterial overgrowth
  • Antibiotic associated infection (Clostridium difficile)
  • Malabsorption syndromes (especially celiac sprue)
Irritable Bowel Syndrome & the MindBodySpirit Connection: 7 Steps for Living a Healthy Life with a Functional Bowel Disorder, Crohn's Disease, or Colitis (Mind-Body-Spirit Connection Series.)

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Irritable Bowel Syndrome & the MindBodySpirit Connection: 7 Steps for Living a Healthy Life with a Functional Bowel Disorder, Crohn's Disease, or Colitis (Mind-Body-Spirit Connection Series.)

Fast Facts on IBS: One in five people suffers from the frustrating symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). There is no simple answer--no pill, potion, or quick fix--that will cure IBS. But help...

Some patients may think they have irritable bowel syndrome but could have inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis or other conditions.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.