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Can you tell the difference between IBS and CFS?

Hi everyone,

I'm un-diagnosed until I see the Gastro in May, but my GP is now considering that I have IBS.

However I also have heavy fatigue that isn't refreshed by sleep or rest.

My GP has dismissed that the IBS and fatigue aren't linked and thinks I'm just 'tired' as I'm off work.

I just came across this on the NHS site about Chronic Fatigue syndrome and have put a star next to the symptoms that relate to me.

muscular pain*, joint pain* and severe headaches

poor short-term memory and concentration, and difficulty organising thoughts and finding the right words ("brain fog")


painful lymph nodes (small glands of the immune system)

* (in my left armpit)

stomach pain and other problems similar to irritable bowel syndrome, such as bloating, constipation, diarrhoea and nausea


sore throat

sleeping problems, such as insomnia and feeling that sleep isn't refreshing*

sensitivity or intolerance to light, loud noise, alcohol and certain foods

psychological difficulties, such as depression, irritability and panic attacks*

less common symptoms, such as dizziness, excess sweating, balance problems and difficulty controlling body temperature

Do you think it's worth showing this to a different GP for their opinion?

Thanks :)

5 Replies

You are in an unfortunate place where many of your symptoms could be any number of things.

Do take your list with you ask for blood tests for possible coeliac, b12d even thyroid, all these are autoimmune and could be linked to your list.

Im not a medic but have had similar to yourself. Been diagnosed coeliac with b12 deficiency. I am getting treatment and things are slowly recovering.


Hi, I have both. Ibs causes fatigue for sure because your gi tract takes a lot of energy, especially when you eat raw foods. Also your food uptake is not optimum so the body is under strain with malnutrition and not being able to shed its cellular waste properly. Both cause stress and inflamation at cell and joint levels. And brain fog.

So yes, ibs taxes the bodily system heavy and on a continuous base. This battle for the body is easily underestimated. It erodes the bodies capacity for normal functionality. Eventually it can lead to overall collapse like CFS/ME/SEID and Adrenal Fatigue and hypothyroidism.

Cfs however is an umbrella diagnosis just like ibs is. You will get no gain from trying to pursue a diagnosis for it. Most doctors do not even believe it's real. Don't go to drs. with this, do self research instead.

On the upside: people dealing with cfs have found some solutions for the same problems ibs poses upon the body. The malnutrition at cell levels, the strain of digestion, eliminating waste at cell level, the importance of removing all body burdens, mineral supplements and how the stress system rules every process in the body.

You may as well look into Adrenal Fatigue as they too have a lot of advice how to deal with and lessen symtoms you describe.

Whatever you do: take it slow. Don't go loading up on mB12 or a herbal supplement or anything that gives your liver or adrenals a kick. You are vulnerable and your body is not capable to deal with things/portions that are nor al for regular folks.

Another piece of knowledge from the cfs community: don't do sweaty sports. There's something about aerobic exersize that does not agree and leaves you fatigued for days, probably has to do with cell respiration. Do anearobic exercise instead (weight lifting, fit20, yoga(?)). No running, gradual exercizing, etc.

I hear dr Myhill is a good cfs dr in the UK with lots of info on the website.


Hi Laura,

I have had the same chronic symptoms, and looked into chronic fatigue (and thyroid) too. I gave up asking doctors and finding a label for what I was experiencing and decided it could not go on any longer.

I have finally put all this behind me and beaten my IBS/ Chronic fatigue.

You may find my blog gives you some inspiration. It's called SickofIBS.com. All the articles are designed to gently change the status quo and move fellow sufferers forward. Have a look at the symptoms I had and see how they are similar to yours: sickofibs.com/ibs-symptoms/...

I am also working on a self-help guide (available soon) which can go into my multifactorial approach in more depth.

It is very difficult to believe there is a way out when you feel like you've hit rock bottom. But you can - slowly but surely.

Hope this helps you,



Sounds rather like Fibromyalgia to me.


Hi I have both and I also have chronic depression and anxiety.

You sound like me I would try for a better GP.

I have had to fight realy hard for the good position that i am in now-not at work and on benefits.

I also have a phobia because of the accidents with the loos stools.

iI have double incontinence too which I have physio for

Very Best Wishes


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