Differential diagnosis of bowel diseases can be challenging, because most of them present with similar common symptoms: abdominal pain and discomfort, diarrhea, weight loss. Infections by common gastrointestinal pathogens may soon be identified, but discrimination of inflammatory bowel disease, of which ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are the most common, and irritable bowel syndrome, remains difficult.
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is characterised by inflammation of the bowel, which is not seen in most patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and both conditions request different diagnostic and therapeutic approaches. IBD are serious diseases with severe comorbidities, and affected patients need further investigation with extensive diagnostic measures and intensive medical treatment. In contrast to that, IBS may be painful and impairs quality of life, but it does not usually cause serious morbidity. However, patients with IBS can have symptoms for many years and they often experience unnecessary and stressing diagnostic procedures.