The Dangers of Irritable Bowel Syndrome Misdiagnosis

The Dangers of Irritable Bowel Syndrome Misdiagnosis

  • On September 18, 2018
  • causes of faecal incontinence, irritable bowel syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome shares a lot of symptoms with similar conditions. Dangerously, it is a very common and frustrating misdiagnosis.


Irritable bowel syndrome is defined as a widespread condition involving recurrent abdominal pain with diarrhoea or constipation. In many cases, a Doctor can accurately diagnose you with this. However, if your gut instinct is telling you the issue is more serious, arguing with a Doctor can save your life. Some forms of cancer, for example, are serious health concerns that an IBS diagnosis can mask.


Are you suffering from faecal incontinence due to irritable bowel disease? Shop our disposable incontinence products for optimum protection.


Various conditions that can be mistaken for IBS have their own unique symptoms. Conditions mistaken for irritable bowel syndrome include the following:


Inflammatory Bowel Disease

This is perhaps the most common mix up with irritable bowel syndrome. These conditions are not the same. Inflammatory bowel disease is a more serious, and can cause inflammation in the digestive tract. Crohn’s Disease is a major category of inflammatory bowel disease.

To distinguish IBD from IBS, look out for the following:

  • Inflammation
  • Intestinal Bleeding
  • Ulcers
  • Damage to the intestines


Stomach and Colon Cancer

When abnormal cells grow and spread through the colon, colon cancer can occur. It may have no signs until the disease progresses and becomes more severe. While it can cause abdominal pain and change in bowel frequency, more serious symptoms are also present.

Unique Symptoms to Look Out For:

  • Rectal bleeding or blood in the stool
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fever


Food Sensitivity

Often, you can also be told you have irritable bowel syndrome when you actually have an independent food sensitivity. Gluten sensitivity is increasingly associated with IBS, though inconsistently so within the dietary history of a single person. Therefore, a person with gluten sensitivity may or may not have IBS, but a person with IBS is more likely than a healthy control to have some degree of gluten sensitivity. This complicates diagnosis substantially. Because of its seemingly unpredictable gastrointestinal symptoms and transient flare-ups, gluten sensitivity is at high risk of being misdiagnosed as IBS in patients who do not have IBS and missed in patients who have comorbid IBS and gluten sensitivity. Similarly, you can also just have a lactose intolerance that is misdiagnosed as IBS. With this condition, you cannot digest sugar in diary products. This can make you feel very uncomfortable and can cause the same symptoms as irritable bowel syndrome. Luckily, food sensitivity tests are available in the market to rule out lactose or gluten sensitivity as independent conditions.

Temporary Stress

Temporary stress and anxiety can also be confused with chronic irritable bowel syndrome. Stress affects everyone in different ways. Despite the similarity in name, this issue is a separate problem to “stress incontinence”. When you are placed in a situation that causes panic or stress, your body can sometimes slow down food as it moves through the digestive system. This leads to problems such as cramping, gas or stomach issues. When these symptoms are noticed, it can make stress worse and cause more symptoms. Doctors have also performed research on the relationship between stress and diarrhoea. Almy and Tulin conducted a famous study in the late 1940s. They used special instruments to measure colon contraction during stress. After putting participants in stressful situations, they found more movement in the large intestine. Stress triggers the release of hormones that signal the enteric system to slow motility, or movement, in the stomach and small intestines. Doctors call these hormones corticotropin-releasing factors. These hormones trigger more movement in the large intestine.


To prevent being given a wrong diagnosis, it is important to provide Doctors with a detailed history of your complaints. Be sure to tell Doctors everything you are worried about, even if you find this embarrassing. Specialist Dr. Wangen advises, “when patients come in, we need a detailed history. I need to understand exactly what’s going on in that environment, in that ecosystem in the digestive tract of theirs”. He explains, “often people are left with this syndrome (IBS), that  doesn’t really offer you much explanation for why you are having these symptoms”.


Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Incontinence Management

Irritable bowel syndrome can also cause faecal incontinence, due to symptoms such as constipation and diarrhoea. There is however, little information of the prevalence of it in irritable bowel syndrome. Health care providers rarely screen for faecal incontinence, so it is significantly underdiagnosed. This means many people stay quiet and don’t seek treatment and a product option. Remembering that there are discreet products available can be an incentive to shop for protection. These even feature odour control technology for maximum discretion. Doing this online can save worries of exposure or embarrassment. Here are some possible options you can look for:


Pull Up Pants

Pull up pants for faecal incontinence are ideal for those who are more mobile. They are slightly harder to put on than all in ones, as they require a full product change. They do not have adhesive straps, and can be removed like normal underwear.


Popular Product:

Tena Pants Maxi


  • Thin and pliable material
  • Higher and softer anti-leakage barriers
  • Feel just like normal underwear


Buy Tena Pants Maxi here at a starting price of £10.99.



All in Ones

All in ones are the most absorbent product choice, popular for those with severe faecal incontinence. They feature straps for easy removal and are designed like a nappy-style product.


Popular Product:

iD Expert Slip Maxi



  • Soft textile back sheet
  • Anti leak cuffs
  • Fits completely round the body for maximum security


Buy iD Expert Slip Maxi at a starting price of £8.99.


Body Shaped Pads

Body shaped pads are designed to fit close to the body for optimum protection.


Popular Product:        

Abena Abri-San Special Premium



  • Designed specially for faecal incontinence
  • Body shaped for a close fit
  • Built in pockets


Buy Abena Abri-San Special Premium at a starting price of £12.10.


Interested in the other causes of faecal incontinence? Read about the relationship between anal sphincter damage and incontinence.


Leave Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *