It’s Not Always IBD: Infectious Causes for Gastrointestinal Illness

The symptoms of infectious gastroenteritis can be very similar to the symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which is a disorder of the large intestine. Some of the overlapping symptoms include cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, and diarrhea. Because of the similarities, it can be difficult to distinguish between an IBD flare-up and infectious gastroenteritis without laboratory testing.

That’s why it’s important for clinicians to consider infectious causes, even when an IBD flare-up is suspected. A gastrointestinal infection may worsen symptoms for those already experiencing chronic IBD. And chronic IBD may mask a serious underlying infection that proper treatment could help alleviate.