Dr. Mutlu discusses the difference between inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome.
In inflammatory bowel disease, there are ulcerations of the intestine and there are structural changes in the intestine. In irritable bowel syndrome, when we look at the intestine endoscopically, with a scope, with a colonoscope or an endoscope tip, or when we do x-rays to examine the intestine, or even when we do biopsies to examine the intestine, the intestine looks fairly normal. So we consider irritable bowel syndrome more of a functional illness rather than a structural illness.
You have to sort of think of this similar to having a house. Let’s say you’re going to go and inspect a house, and you’re going to look at the house to see if it has windows and doors and electrical outlets and all the other components, kitchen faucets and cabinets, etc. In inflammatory bowel disease, some of those structures are destroyed by the immune system, such as the lining of the intestine, so you see ulcerations.
In the case of irritable bowel syndrome, however, all of the structures such as the doors and the windows and everything else within a house, similar to that example, looks all normal. However, it does not function right, and it causes symptoms for the person.
About Dr. Mutlu, M.D.:
Dr. Ece A. Mutlu, M.D., is Associate Professor of Medicine at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois. She specializes in gastroenterology and nutrition, and her research interests include diet therapy in inflammatory bowel disease, role of microbiological flora on gastrointestinal illness, role of nutrition in gastrointestinal disease, complementary and alternative medicine for gastrointestinal disease, and antioxidant treatment of radiation proctitis.