Inflammatory Bowel Disease
While talking about inflammatory bowel disease, doctors usually refer to two bowel disorders: Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Both these diseases result in inflammation of the colon and rectum.
- The inflammation caused by ulcerative colitis remains in the inner lining of the bowel, while inflammation caused by Crohn’s disease can spread through the entire thickness of the bowel wall.
- Ulcerative colitis remains limited to the colon and rectum. Crohn’s disease, on the other hand, can cause inflammation in any part of the GI tract.
According to an estimate, 1 in every 20 people having IBD has an inflammatory condition which cannot be classified as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. Such a condition is known as indeterminate colitis.
Causes of IBD
There is not much research work available regarding what causes inflammatory bowel disease. Experts suggest that a person may have this condition due to genetics or environmental factors. It may be due to the immune system going for overdrive in response to a bacterial or viral infection, resulting in inflammation.
Symptoms of IBD
The symptoms can vary depending on which part of the GI tract is affected. There can be sessions of flare-ups and remissions. Symptoms of this condition include:
- Pain and cramps in the abdomen
- Feeling like needing to move bowels
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
Because Crohn’s disease can affect any part of the bowel, its symptoms may vary.
Diagnosing inflammatory bowel disease
If the problems you have make you or your doctor suspicious about IBD, you may have the following tests.
- Blood tests
- Stool tests to check inflammation in your bowel
- CT scan or MRI test
- Colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy
Treatments for IBD
You can control your symptoms by making changes to your diet. Your doctor will give you dietary advice based on the symptoms you have. You may want to discuss dietary options with a nutritionist for further elaboration. The doctor may ask you to cut back the amount of fiber that you take daily. The purpose of this diet restriction will be to reduce diarrhea and other painful symptoms. You may also have to take some vitamin supplements to get a more direct supply of nutrients.
Stress can be one of the most significant reasons for a flare-up of IBD-related symptoms. That is why it is crucial to learn how to manage your stress. The most common ways of managing stress are exercising and medication. You may want to join local groups to share your feelings with others.
The medication you take will primarily focus on controlling inflammation in the gut. The purpose of this medication is to prevent any flare-ups. Options that you can consider in this regard may include Aminosalicylates, Medicines affecting the immune response, Biologic therapy, Corticosteroids, and pain medications.
If nothing works out, you may want to undergo surgery. The surgeon will remove the infected part of the bowel and reconnect two healthy ends. In most cases, patients get a total colectomy to cure the condition. After performing a total colectomy, the surgeon will bring a part of the bowel out through the abdominal wall to create a stoma. It means that you are not going to be using your rectum and anus for passing out stools, at least until your colon and rectum recover from the illness.