What is Inflammatory Bowel Disease?
Inflammatory bowel disease, or IBS, is the inflammation of the inside walls of your intestines. The term “inflammatory bowel disease” is not one disease in of itself. There are several different types of inflammatory bowel diseases, but the two most common are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Although we do not know the exact cause of IBS, inflammation of the intestines may be due to genetic reasons, a poor immune system. When your intestines become infected by bacteria or a virus, they become inflamed as a healthy response to fighting an infection. After the infection is gone, the inflammation should naturally go away. However, if you have an inflammatory bowel disease, your intestines stay inflamed even after the infection is long gone, and that can cause some problems for your digestive system. An IBD isn’t fatal, but it can cause significant problems with your digestive system that can lead to life-threatening situations.
Types of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases
Ulcerative Colitis: this disease causes long-term inflammation and ulcers in the lining of your large intestine and rectum. This disease is further classified into different types of IBDs depending on the location of the inflamed tissue. We will likely perform tests to determine where your inflammation is in your digestive tract before we can give you a proper diagnosis.
Crohn’s Disease: this causes inflammation in the lining of your gastrointestinal tract, but it spreads deeper into the inflamed tissues. It can be found in both the large and small intestine.
Collagenous Colitis: although this does not occur in your intestines, we still check for this disease that affects your colon. It affects women more than men. The symptoms are watery diarrhea and a lack of blood in stools in comparison to the other IBDs.
Symptoms of IBD and When to See a Doctor
Symptoms of inflammatory bowel diseases vary between individuals because there is an entire spectrum of symptoms that a patient may or may not have, depending on the severity of and type of inflammatory bowel disease from which you may be suffering. The following symptoms are common for people suffering from Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis: diarrhea, low-grade fever, fatigue, anemia, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, unexpected weight loss and no appetite, bleeding ulcers (which cause bloody stools) and cramping.
You should be aware that complications can arise from any of the inflammatory bowel diseases. In addition to the symptoms above, you may experience bowel obstruction, ulcers (and blood in the stools), or anal fissures, malnutrition, fistulas, which is a hole in the intestinal wall caused by a severe ulcer. Having an inflammatory bowel disease also puts you at a higher risk for colon cancer and other health problems such as eye inflammation, joint pain, anemia, inflamed liver, and other.
Treatment options vary depending on the type and severity of the IBD from which you are suffering. After thorough testing and diagnosis, we can discuss your treatment options.