Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

What is Inflammatory Bowel Disease?

Inflammatory Bowel Disease or IBD can strike people of all ages. Two types are the most prevalent. They are ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

Although similar and often hard to distinguish, Crohn’s diseases can disturb any part of the digestive tract, but it most often targets the colon and the lower portion of the small intestine. Ulcerative colitis primarily targets the large intestine. However, IBD can also be caused by bacteria or parasites. It can be extremely painful and devastating, both physically and emotionally.

What are the Symptoms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease?

The symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease depend on whether it is a result of ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease or some other problem. The primary difference is the location of the inflammation and pain. The symptoms of both ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease can range from minor to acute.

Symptoms include

  • Low energy
  • Sleepiness
  • Fever (usually low-grade)
  • Loose stools
  • Abdominal cramping and pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dark or bright red blood in the stool
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss without dieting
  • Malnourishment

How is Inflammatory Bowel Disease Treated?

Inflammatory bowel disease cannot be cured, but the symptoms may be treated and the disease can be controlled. The objective is to reduce inflammation and achieve lasting remission.

Treatments include

  • Oral or intravenous anti-inflammatory medications
  • Immunosuppressant medications that lower inflammation by subduing immune system responses
  • Antibiotics to prevent and treat infection
  • Diarrhea medication
  • Pain medication
  • Special diet
  • Vitamin D and calcium supplements to prevent osteoporosis
  • Vitamin B-12 injections when deficient
  • Iron pills for those with blood loss
  • Surgery when other treatment options fail

Tests must be performed to determine the cause of inflammatory bowel disease. Complications can be life-threatening if IBD goes untreated.

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Last Reviewed:
September 21, 2016
Last Updated:
September 01, 2017