Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and appendicitis both share similar symptoms, which can often confuse people. However, it’s important that you know how to identify symptoms of each condition, especially because appendicitis is a medical emergency and should be treated immediately.
Approximately 15 percent of adults in the United States have IBS. The symptoms of IBS include abdominal pain and alternating constipation and diarrhea. It is a gastrointestinal disease that researchers say is due to super-sensitive nerves in the gastrointestinal tract. There is a problem with how the nerves in the gastrointestinal tract communicate with the brain and how the brain processes the signals.
Patients with IBS also experience abdominal bloating, cramping, and a feeling of fullness and never feeling like their bowels are empty. Other symptoms include episodes that are unrelated to digestion and bowel movements, such as migraines, trouble sleeping, depression, and pelvic pain. IBS is known to have triggers, such as certain foods and stress.
There is no known cure for IBS, but symptoms can be managed with lifestyle changes, medication, and psychotherapy. IBS is not a medical emergency but rather a chronic condition. Most patients are able to manage the condition with the help of a doctor.
Appendicitis affects the appendix, which is a finger-shaped organ located in your colon on the lower right side of your abdomen. The location of the pain helps differentiate its symptoms from that of IBS. Pain usually begins in the navel area and moves towards the lower right side of the abdomen, and is caused by a blockage in the appendix. Pressing on the location of the pain often causes the pain to worsen. Movements such as walking and even coughing can increase the intensity of the pain.
Appendicitis pain, like IBS pain, can be intermittent, but in most cases, the pain is so severe that patients seek emergency care themselves. Other symptoms include loss of appetite, constipation or diarrhea, feeling nauseated, fever, and a flushed face. Appendicitis symptoms are almost always worse than that of IBS.
The only possible treatment for appendicitis is surgical removal of the appendix. It’s only a matter of time before the appendix will rupture, and a ruptured appendix is life-threatening. For this reason, it is important to seek medical care immediately if you experience symptoms of appendicitis.
Appendicitis and IBS are not the only gastrointestinal conditions that share similar symptoms. You may also have a bladder or urinary tract infection or irritable bowel disease (IBD). The best way to deal with such issues is to see a doctor when you have unusual symptoms. It is unadvisable to let gastrointestinal issues fester and go undiagnosed.
Diagnosing Abdominal Pain in Carlisle, PA
If you’re experiencing symptoms of IBS or appendicitis, have the gastroenterology team
Carlisle Digestive Disease Associates examine you. Our experienced gastroenterologists are committed to your digestive health and are experts at diagnosing and treating a broad range of upper and lower GI conditions, including IBS and appendicitis.