Inflammatory bowel disease is a term used to refer to any condition that involves ongoing inflammation of the digestive tract. Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are examples of inflammatory bowel disease.
Inflammatory bowel disease can interfere with daily functioning, and in some cases, it can cause life-threatening symptoms. It is considered a chronic condition.
What causes inflammatory bowel disease?
The exact cause of inflammatory bowel disease is uncertain. While stress and diet may make symptoms worse, they do not cause inflammatory bowel disease. Inflammatory bowel disease may be due to genetics. Another potential cause is an immune system response. When the body’s immune system attacks a virus, it may inadvertently attack cells in the digestive tract, causing inflammatory bowel symptoms.
What are the complications of inflammatory bowel disease?
Inflammatory bowel disease can increase the risk of colon cancer. People with inflammatory bowel disease are also more susceptible to arthritis as well as skin and eye inflammation. Other complications include blood clots, liver damage, and serious side effects from medications used to treat inflammatory bowel disease, such as high blood pressure and increased risk of cancer. Someone with inflammatory bowel disease may also be susceptible to issues like bowel obstruction, anal fissures, malnutrition, severe dehydration, and perforated colon.
How is inflammatory bowel disease usually treated?
Medications and surgery are the common treatments for inflammatory bowel disease, and the ultimate goal is to reduce the inflammation that triggers symptoms. With reduced inflammation, people with inflammatory bowel disease can experience relief, as well as remission and a reduction in the risk of complications. Specific anti-inflammatory drugs, as well as immune system suppressors, can be effective for treating inflammatory bowel disease. Doctors may also prescribe antibiotics or a class of drugs called biologics. Some people may also take pain relievers, anti-diarrheal medications, or vitamins and supplements to manage symptoms. Surgery may be necessary to remove the colon and rectum in the case of ulcerative colitis, or to remove damaged parts of the digestive tract in the case of Crohn’s disease.
- “I have a limited appetite, and I have started to lose weight without trying.”
- “I struggle with ongoing stomach pain and cramping, as well as diarrhea.”
- “I have significant fatigue throughout the day, and when symptoms are flaring up, I have blood in my stool.”