Misdiagnosis of Irritable bowel syndrome vs. Celiac disease


19 May 2022 1447 Views By MARI

Both irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and celiac disease are health conditions related to the digestive system. The difference is that while celiac disease affects only the small intestine, the whole lower part of the gastrointestinal tract is involved in IBS, which includes the small and large intestine.


Despite their similarity in their mutual area of affection – the small intestine – these conditions are very different.


Celiac disease is a long-lasting inflammation of the proximal small

intestine, which results in villous atrophy and malabsorption that can develop in genetically susceptible individuals who ingest gluten.


Based on research from NIDDK or the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, 1 in 141 Americans gets affected by celiac disease. These individuals must cut all and any sorts of gluten from their diet. Gluten is in wheat, barley, rye, malt, or triticale.


In celiac disease, the symptoms are different in children and adults.


The following are symptoms of celiac disease in children:

  • Weight loss

  • Vomiting

  • Abdominal bloating

  • Abdominal pain

  • Persistent diarrhea or constipation

  • Pale, fatty, foul-smelling stools


In adults, the symptoms can also include:

  • Diarrhea or Constipation

  • Fatigue

  • Weight loss

  • Bloating and gas

  • Abdominal pain

  • Nausea and vomiting

Celiac disease is also an autoimmune disease that prevents the body from absorbing certain nutrients, which can cause other symptoms that can be more severe.


On the other hand, IBS, or irritable bowel syndrome, includes abdominal pain or discomfort for three days every month.




Commonly associated symptoms include:

  • A change in stool frequency and form or appearance

  • Distension

  • Cramping

  • Abdominal pain

  • Bloating and gas

  • Constipation

  • Diarrhea

IBS is more common among women. Women may see even more signs in this period, especially with the tendency of its symptoms to come about around menstruation. However, in menopausal women, the symptoms are less prominent.


Other names for IBS or irritable bowel syndrome include:

Spastic colon,

Irritable colon,

Spastic colitis, and

Mucous colitis



There are similar symptoms in IBS and celiac disease, and precisely, the similarity of these symptoms is the leading cause of most misdiagnosis.


How is it diagnosed correctly?

You must consult a doctor if you have severe stomach pain, diarrhea, or gas immediately after eating certain foods. They will ask you about your

symptoms and the triggers of the condition. But to be sure, there are

some tests that your doctor will recommend you take


These tests include:


Blood tests: To assess if any celiac antibodies or low red blood counts (anemia) are present.


Bone density test: Consist of using a lighter x-ray to see how many minerals are available inside the bones, indicating how strong the bones are.


Endoscopy: For your doctor to check for any damage to your small

intestine. This test is performed using a long, lighted tube.


Tissue Biopsy: to check for any possible signs of celiac.


Unfortunately, these tests are only used to diagnose a celiac disease condition and are not used for IBS. Your doctor is likely to start with a complete medical history, physical exam, and tests to rule out other conditions, such as celiac disease. Your doctor may use one of the following diagnostic criteria to diagnose IBS.

  • Abdominal pain and discomfort

-If it lasts at least one day per week in the last three months. It is also associated with defecation, stool consistency, and altered frequency.


After your symptoms have been recorded, your doctor can categorize your presented IBS as:

  • IBS constipation-predominant

  • IBS diarrhea-predominant

  • IBS mixed.



If you are diagnosed with celiac disease, the best treatment is to remove gluten from your diet. If consuming dairy foods bothers you, you should avoid them. Steroids will relieve the inflammation if the celiac disease has damaged the intestines. Also, taking calcium, vitamin D, or other vitamin supplements is necessary if you cannot get enough nutrients from your diet.


If you are diagnosed with IBS, you must find out which foods are causing discomfort. If medication is necessary, contact your doctor to help alleviate your symptoms.








MARI Online Clinic (MOC) is an online medical clinic which has invented a novel protocol to be added to current pathways in diagnosis. This organization benefits from the skills of expert physicians and specialists all around the world. MOC is affiliated with the Misdiagnosis Association and Research Institute - MARI. MARI is a non-profit research organization dedicated to conducting research on “Misdiagnosis,” “Error in Treatment,” “Malpractice,” and overall, all errors happening in the healthcare and medical fields. MARI and its subsidiaries aim to remove the limitations and boundaries placed on healthcare and improve quality of life by providing excellent and equitable care to all.