What is Inflammatory Bowel Disease?

Disorders characterized by persistent (chronic) inflammation of digestive system tissues are included under the umbrella term inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The many forms of IBD are:

  • Ulcerative colitis is a type of colon inflammation disease. There is inflammation and sores (ulcers) along the lining of the large intestine (colon) and rectum.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome or Crohn's disease. This type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is marked by inflammation of the lining of the digestive tract. This inflammation can spread to the deeper layers of the digestive tract. The small intestine is a frequent target of Crohn's disease.

But it can also affect the small intestine and, less often, the upper part of the GI tract. Diarrhea, rectal bleeding, stomach discomfort, exhaustion, and weight loss are all common symptoms of ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. Some patients with IBD have relatively subtle symptoms. But for some, it's a severe illness that can even be fatal if not treated.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

When people talk about inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), the terms ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease are often used interchangeably. People with diseases like ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease have inflammation in their digestive tracts that doesn't go away over time.

Only the colon is affected by ulcerative colitis (large intestine). Crohn's disease can impact the digestive tract (anus) from the lips to the bottom. Although IBD can affect anyone at any age, most cases are found in people between the ages of 15 and 40.

Symptoms of IBD

Some of the symptoms of inflammatory bowel syndrome are:

  • Abdominal pain, such as cramping or bloating
  • Persistent or bloody diarrhea
  • Significant weight loss
  • Persistent extreme fatigue

Some patients may also have symptoms like a high temperature, feeling sick (vomiting), anemia, and a lack of red blood cells.

Rarely, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is linked to painful red eyes (uveitis), painful red skin bumps (erythema nodosum), and jaundice (primary sclerosing cholangitis).

Irritable bowel syndrome symptoms fluctuate. Flare-ups, or times when symptoms are nasty, are possible. These can be followed by long periods when symptoms are mild or go away (remission).

Causes of IBD

Although the exact origin of inflammatory bowel disease is unknown, several variables are suspected.

  • Genetics – Having a first-degree relative with IBD increases your risk of developing the disease.
  • Immunity issues

Smokers are twice as likely to get Crohn's disease as nonsmokers.

Treating IBD

Neither Crohn's disease nor ulcerative colitis has a treatment available now.

In mild cases of ulcerative colitis, medication may be unnecessary or harmful, and the condition may go away for years.

Lifestyle changes, specific diets, surgery, and medicines may all be used to alleviate symptoms and stop them from reoccurring.

These are some of the medications that can be used to treat Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis:

  1. Anti-inflammatory drugs like aminosalicylates or mesalazine
  2. Immunosuppressants like steroids or azathioprine
  3. Antibiotics
  4. Biological and biosimilar medicines – Antibody-based treatments delivered through an injection that target a specific section of the immune system

One-fifth of those who suffer from ulcerative colitis experience severe symptoms unresponsive to treatment. In some cases (colon), an inflamed part of the large intestine may need to be taken out by surgery.

It is thought that 60 and 75% of people with Crohn's disease will need surgery to fix damage to the digestive system and treat its complications.

Bowel cancer is more common in people with inflammatory bowel illnesses, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn's. For cancer screening, your doctor may regularly suggest an endoscopy of the colon.

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