Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

What is Inflammatory Bowel Disease?

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is an umbrella term that covers any disease that inflames part or all of the digestive tract. Two of the most common types of IBD are:

Ulcerative Colitis-A type of IBD that causes chronic inflammation and ulcers in the lining of the large intestine.

Crohn’s Disease-A type of IBD that causes inflammation deep in the lining of the digestive tract. It can affect the large and small intestine.

The symptoms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) depend on the severity and the location of inflammation. They tend to be intermittent with flare-up periods.

Some symptoms that are common across multiple types of IBD are:

  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Abdominal pain and cramping
  • Bloody stool
  • Low appetite
  • Unexpected weight loss

Doctors are unsure of the exact cause of IBD. One of the leading theories involves an error in the immune system, causing it to attack cells in the digestive tract. Some risk factors for IBD include:

  • A family history of IBD
  • Use of Isotretinoin (an acne medication)
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, including:
    • Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, IB, others)
    • Naproxen sodium (Aleve, Anaprox)
    • Diclofenac sodium (Voltaren, Solaraze)
  • Other factors:
    • People under 30 are at higher risk
    • Caucasians and people of Jewish descent are at higher risk
    • People who live in cities are at higher risk

Your doctor will suspect IBD after ruling out other possible causes like irritable bowel syndrome, diverticulitis, colon cancer, and others. To confirm the diagnosis, your doctor may run one or more of the following tests:

  • Fecal occult blood test-a test designed to search for blood in the stool
  • Blood tests for anemia or infection
  • Endoscopy procedures, including:
    • Colonoscopy
    • Flexible sigmoidoscopy
    • Upper endoscopy
    • Capsule endoscopy
    • Balloon endoscopy
  • Imaging tests, including:
    • X-ray
    • CT scan
    • MRI
    • Small bowel imaging

There is no cure for IBD, so the goal of treatment is to reduce inflammation and manage triggers. Most IBD treatments involve drug therapy or, in severe cases, surgery.

Drug therapy includes:

  • Anti-inflammatory drugs:
    • Aminosalicylates
    • Corticosteroids
  • Immune system suppressors:
    • Azathioprine (Azasan, Imuran) and mercaptopurine (Purinethol, Purixan)
    • Cylosporine (Gengraf, Neoral, Sandimmune)
    • Infliximab (Remicade), adalimumab (Humira), golimumab (Simponi)
    • Methotrexate (Rheumatrex)
    • Natalizumab (Tysabri) and vedolizumab (Entyvio)
    • Ustekinumab (Stelara)
  • Antibiotics:
    • Metronidazole (Flagyl)
    • Ciprofloxacin (Cipro)
  • Other Medications:
    • Anti-diarrheal medications
    • Pain relievers
    • Iron supplements
    • Vitamin B-12
    • Calcium and vitamin D supplements

In severe cases surgery may be necessary to treat IBD, this generally means removing the affected portion of the digestive tract. However, this will not cure IBD.

If IBD goes untreated, it can lead to more serious complications, including:

  • Bowel obstruction
  • Ulcers
  • Fistulas-very large ulcers that create unintended connections between sections of the digestive tract.
  • Anal fissure-A tear in the tissue lining the anus that can become easily infected.
  • Malnutrition
  • Colon cancer
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap