Diverticulitis and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) share many similarities in terms of symptoms, so the two can often be confused. If you have been experiencing digestive disturbances and discomfort, you may be wondering if one of these conditions is the cause of your digestive issues.
It’s important to know the similarities and differences between diverticulitis and IBS because they are two distinctly different afflictions. Diverticulitis is a disease, whereas IBS is a gastrointestinal disorder or syndrome. We’ll explore the similarities and differences in terms of symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment, so that you can assess your situation and get the help you need.
Symptoms of Diverticulitis and IBS
The thing about digestive issues is that the symptoms can come and go. Sometimes people with diverticular disease and or IBS may have no symptoms at all for a period of time. However, it is important to be aware of and manage the condition properly as symptoms can become severe.
Both diverticulosis and IBS can present with the following symptoms:
- Abdominal pain
- Constipation and or diarrhoea
However, a flare-up of diverticulitis can produce much more severe symptoms such as:
- Blood in stool or rectal bleeding
- Acute abdominal pain (typically in lower left side)
- Fever and chills
- Nausea and or vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Constipation or (sometimes) diarrhoea
IBS can also manifest in two typical forms:
- IBS-D: This type of IBS causes diarrhoea symptoms like loose and frequent stools.
- IBS-C: This type of IBS causes constipation symptoms like hard, lumpy, and infrequent stools.
Causes for Diverticulitis and IBS
As discussed, the distinction between diverticulitis and IBS is that diverticulitis is a disease and IBS is a syndrome, and as such the cause for each is different. It is thought that both diverticulitis and IBS may be inflamed by low fibre diets.
Diverticulitis arises when small pockets known as diverticula develop in the intestinal wall and become inflamed or infected. A low fibre diet is the main suspect for this because constipation and firmer stools puts excess pressure on the intestines. Some studies also suggest that genetics, lack of exercise, and smoking may also be involved in the development of diverticulitis.
The definitive cause of IBS is currently unknown, however it is usually related to food intolerances. Anxiety and stress may also aggravate IBS symptoms which is why it is important to treat holistically rather than focusing purely on diet.
Because diverticulitis and IBS are physically different conditions, diagnosing them involves two separate processes.
Usually a physical exam is required to diagnose diverticulosis (ie. diverticulitis), which can involve any of the following assessments:
- Rectal examination
Abdominal x-ray or CT scan
For IBS, diagnosis usually revolves around matching a series of symptoms. For this reason IBS is often confused with Food Intolerance symptoms.
The initial treatment protocol for anyone with IBS should be to ascertain what foods you may be intolerant too. Often elimination of these foods will result in a complete resolution in your IBS symptoms. At Capalaba Natural Health, our testing for food intolerances can test the main 59 foods to which people are commonly intolerant, which provides results in less than an hour of completing your test.
Natural Treatment for Diverticulitis and IBS
Treating these conditions can vary greatly depending on the severity of the diverticulitis symptoms as well as the food intolerances identified in the test mentioned above. A high fibre diet together with regular exercise and proper hydration may be able to treat both diverticulitis and IBS.
Both conditions will benefit significantly from eliminating the foods you are intolerant to.
A naturopathic approach has assisted many people who suffer from diverticulitis as it addresses aggravators related to diet, gut health, and lifestyle to provide symptom relief. IBS can also be treated with diet alterations as well as by using naturopathy to calm the nervous system and reduce stress.
Both conditions can benefit from natural nutrients and supplements designed to reduce inflammation in your gut, repair your digestive tract and by providing anti-inflammatory pre and probiotics. We have had significant success in treatment both IBS and Diverticulitis.
To talk to our specialists at Capalaba Natural Health about your digestive concerns, please contact us here.