Many people might think their digestive disturbance is IBS-related, even though there are many stomach maladies that share similar symptoms to IBS. If you have some kind of distress or irregularity in your bowels (anything from going too much / too little to mucus or blood in the stools), it’s usually best to consult your general practitioner or a stomach specialist (like a gastroenterologist). But here are a few ailments that are similar to IBS that many people suffer from.
Dietary Fructose Intolerance (Fructose Malabsorption)
Fructose intolerance is a digestive ailment where fructose sugars are not properly absorbed in the small intestine. The whole intestine will have high amounts of fructose just lying around because the intestinal tract is not properly assimilating it. Fructose Malabsorption is often comorbid with lactose intolerance.
There is a hydrogen breath test used to find the byproducts of chemical reactions within those that suffer from Fructose Intolerance. A proper test for fructose digestion difficulty can save you from having to treat your digestion difficulties as IBS symptoms.
Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth
Bacteria in the gut should be concentrated in the large intestine: when there’s an influx of bacteria into the small intestine, then digestive problems usually follow. Treatment of small-intestine bacterial overgrowth is best done using probiotic supplements like acidophilus and bifidus. Supplements are preferred to antibiotics because you don’t want to disturb the bacteria equilibrium in other areas of the body. A doctor should be consulted for antibiotic treatment if probiotic supplements don’t help curb the bacteria overgrowth.
Celiac Disease attacks the intestinal tract and is classified as an autoimmune disorder that can afflict all ages since the disease’s etiology is genetic. Its symptoms include exhaustion and diarrhea (which stems from inferior nutrient absorption) and are therefore often confused with IBS symptoms. Celiac sufferers can’t digest wheat proteins properly, so a wheat/ gluten free diet should be followed to stay symptom free.
Beaver Fever / Giardiasis
Beaver Fever, or giardiasis, is a very common world-wide pathogenic parasitic disease. Its symptoms are much like typical gastric disturbances so misdiagnoses can often occur. The best method to diagnose this ubiquitous parasite is to analyze the fecal matter of the individual that is infected. As the name suggests, people catch ‘Beaver Fever’ from close proximity to beavers (and similar rodents) or other livestock. Travel to foreign countries where there is negligent water treatment is also a high risk factor for getting the disease, especially in the summer months when the parasite is more prolific. Be sure to boil water or use water treatment tablets (or stick with bottled water) if you are unsure of the drinking water quality in your area.
Treatment of Giardiasis is through doctor prescription of the antibiotics like metronidazole for a period of 1-2 weeks to kill all vestiges of the parasite in the host body.
Bile Acid Malabsorption
The liver pumps bile acids, also known as bile salts, out to the stomach after eating meals in order to help digest fat lipids. Excess bile is reabsorbed to used later in healthy adults; however, those with Bile Acid Malabsorption do not reabsorb the bile salts in their small intestines. When this occurs, the small intestines pass on the bile acid to the large intestine where it doesn’t belong and ultimately causes diarrhea.
Bile acid sequestrants are often used to treat bile acid malabsorption, but Wikipedia notes that they aren’t well tolerated:
Bile acid sequestrants are the main agents used to treat bile acid malabsorption. Cholestyramine and colestipol, both in powder form, have been used for many years. Unfortunately many patients find them difficult to tolerate; although the diarrhea may improve, other symptoms such as pain and bloating may worsen.
Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease
Inflammatory Bowel diseases like Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease affect the small intestine and the colon are much more serious than IBS. Persistent diahrrea and nausea are two symptoms of inflammatory bowel diseases, and you should get your doctors opinion to rule these out if your stomach pains are severe.
Types of Diarrhea
- Watery diarrhea: Troubles with water absorption caused by increased electrolyte secretion or reduced absorption of food nutrients.
- Fatty diarrhea: Defective absorption of fat and perhaps other nutrients in small intestine.
- Inflammatory diarrhea: Inflammatory disease involving the gastrointestinal tract.