Difference Between Spastic Colitis and IBS

Spastic colitis and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) are functional gastrointestinal disorders that can significantly effect the day to day life. It is mostly triggered by diet, stress, and psychological factors. Both of these are considered as chronic conditions in which symptoms flares-up periodically , hence proper understanding and management is needed in symptom controlling.

Difference Between Spastic Colitis and IBS

Below is the difference between spastic colitis and irritable bowel syndrome in tabular format:

Aspect Spastic Colitis Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Definition Historical term for IBS or a form of IBD Functional GI disorder with no structural abnormalities
Inflammation May or may not involve inflammation No inflammation
Types No distinct subtypes IBS-C, IBS-D, IBS-M, IBS-U
Symptoms Similar to IBS (abdominal pain, bloating, bowel habit changes) Similar to spastic colitis (abdominal pain, bloating, bowel habit changes)
Causes Diet, stress, genetics, infections Gut motility, visceral hypersensitivity, gut-brain axis, psychological factors, diet, gut microbiota
Diagnosis Based on symptoms and exclusion of other conditions Based on symptoms and exclusion of other conditions
Treatment Lifestyle changes, medication, stress management Lifestyle changes, medication, stress management

Browse best Scrubs Collection

What is Spastic Colitis?

Spastic colitis, often interchangeably referred to as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), is a term historically used to describe a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD but spastic colitis, in its traditional sense, does not necessarily involve such inflammation but rather spasms and motility issues of the colon.


The exact cause of spastic colitis remains unclear, but several factors contribute to its development:

  • Diet: High-fat diets, processed foods, and low fiber intake.
  • Stress: Emotional stress and anxiety can exacerbate symptoms.
  • Genetics: Family history of bowel disorders may increase risk.
  • Infections: Previous gastrointestinal infections can lead to changes in the gut flora, triggering symptoms.

Symptoms of Spastic Colitis:

  • Abdominal pain and cramping
  • Bloating
  • Alternating diarrhea and constipation
  • Mucus in the stool
  • Sensation of incomplete evacuation


Diagnosing both conditions typically involves a thorough medical history and physical examination. Diagnostic tests are used primarily find out out other conditions rather than to diagnose IBS or spastic colitis directly.

Common Diagnostic Tests:

  • Blood tests: To check for anemia, infection, and inflammatory markers.
  • Stool tests: To detect infections or blood in the stool.
  • Colonoscopy: To examine the colon for signs of inflammation, polyps, or other abnormalities.
  • Imaging studies: Such as CT scans or X-rays to visualize the intestines

Treatment Approaches

  • Dietary Changes: Increasing fiber intake, avoiding trigger foods, and staying hydrated.
  • Medications: Antispasmodics to relieve cramping, laxatives for constipation, and antidiarrheal agents.
  • Stress Management: Techniques such as meditation, yoga, and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).
  • Probiotics: To improve gut health and balance gut microbiota.



What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is characterized by chronic abdominal pain and altered bowel habits without any identifiable structural abnormalities. It is a common condition, affecting approximately 10-15% of the global population.

Types of IBS:

  • IBS with constipation (IBS-C): Predominantly hard or lumpy stools.
  • IBS with diarrhea (IBS-D): Predominantly loose or watery stools.
  • IBS with mixed bowel habits (IBS-M): Alternating between constipation and diarrhea.
  • IBS unclassified (IBS-U): Symptoms that do not fit into the other categories.


It is believed that these are the factors that causes IBS

  • Abnormal gut motility: Irregular muscle contractions in the intestines.
  • Gut microbiota: Imbalances in gut bacteria.
  • Visceral hypersensitivity: Increased sensitivity of the intestines to pain.
  • Gut-brain axis dysfunction: Communication issues between the gut and the brain.
  • Psychological factors: Stress, anxiety, and depression.
  • Diet: Certain foods can trigger symptoms.


  • Abdominal pain and cramping
  • Bloating and gas
  • Diarrhea or constipation (or alternating between both)
  • Mucus in the stool
  • Urgency to have a bowel movement
  • Sensation of incomplete evacuation after a bowel movement
  • Changes in the frequency or appearance of bowel movements

Treatment approaches

  • Dietary Adjustments: Following a low FODMAP diet, avoiding gas-producing foods, and eating regular meals.
  • Medications: Depending on the type of IBS, options include fiber supplements, antidiarrheal drugs, laxatives, and medications to reduce pain and cramping.
  • Psychological Therapies: CBT, hypnotherapy, and stress reduction techniques.
  • Probiotics and Prebiotics: To support a healthy gut microbiome.


Spastic Colitis: It is considered a chronic condition characterized by periodic flare-ups of symptoms Treatment focuses on symptom management and improving quality of life through lifestyle changes and medications Specialised to individual symptoms and severity.

IBS: IBS is a chronic condition with a variable prognosis, it does not lead to severe complications or increase mortality risk, symptoms can fluctuate over time, impacting daily life. With proper management many individuals can achieve significant symptom relief and lead a normal life.

Shop the Best Lab Coats from Here!

Check out More Articles
Difference Between Cartilage And Bone
Difference Between Endocrine And Exocrine Glands
Difference Between Cell Wall And Cell Membrane


What causes IBS?

The exact cause of IBS is unknown, but factors such as abnormal gut motility, visceral hypersensitivity, gut-brain axis dysfunction, and psychological factors like stress can contribute.

What are the types of IBS?

IBS is categorized into four main types: IBS with constipation (IBS-C), IBS with diarrhea (IBS-D), mixed IBS (IBS-M), and unclassified IBS (IBS-U).

How does spastic colitis differ from IBS?

Unlike IBS, which is a functional disorder, spastic colitis historically suggested a form of IBD or inflammatory condition, but is now understood to be more related to functional motility issues in the colon.

What are the symptoms of spastic colitis?

Symptoms include abdominal pain and cramping, bloating, altered bowel habits (diarrhea or constipation), mucus in the stool, and a sensation of incomplete evacuation.

How is spastic colitis treated?

Treatment focuses on managing symptoms through dietary adjustments (e.g., high-fiber diet), medications (e.g., antispasmodics, laxatives), stress management techniques, and sometimes probiotics to support gut health.