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Inflammatory Bowel Disease

En Español (Spanish Version)

Definition | Causes | Risk Factors | Symptoms | Diagnosis | Treatment | Prevention

Definition

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is swelling and irritation of the intestines. Two forms of IBD are:

IBD is a lifelong illness.

Causes

The exact cause of IBD is not known. Some believe IBD may be the result of:

  • Inherited genetics—may be a family history of IBD
  • Reaction to a virus or bacteria that damages the colon and rectum
  • Compromised immune system or infection that affects the immune system

Risk Factors

IBD is more common in people who are Caucasian or of northern European or Jewish ancestry.

The following factors increase your chance of developing IBD:

  • Having a family member with IBD
  • Having problems with the immune system

Symptoms

Symptoms may be constant or occur during flare-ups. Symptoms depend on the type of IBD, but common symptoms may include:

  • Abdominal pain and cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss and loss of appetite
  • Bleeding from the intestines
  • Ulcers in the intestines
  • Inflammation of the rectum
  • Draining around the rectum
  • Bloating or feeling of fullness
  • Gas
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Abdominal sounds such as gurgling
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Joint pain

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.

Images of your bodily structures may be needed. This can be done with:

Your bodily fluids and waste products may be tested. This can be done with:

  • Blood tests
  • Stool culture

Colonoscopy

Colonoscope

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Treatment

There is no cure for IBD but treatments can help control symptoms. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include:

Lifestyle Changes

IBD symptoms may be reduced with simple dietary changes. Dietary changes may include switching to a diet that is:

Overall wellness may also play a role in reducing IBD flare-ups. Find ways to reduce stress. Get plenty of rest.

Medications

Most medications for IBD focus on reducing the swelling and irritation. Medications include:

  • Anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Corticosteroids
  • Immune system suppressors
  • Antibiotics to kill germs in the intestinal tract
  • Anti-diarrhea medication
  • Laxatives
  • Pain relievers

Surgery

Surgery is not helpful for all types of IBD. For people with severe ulcerative colitis, a surgery to remove the colon may be done.

Prevention

Since the cause is not clear, there are no known prevention steps.

 

RESOURCES:

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

References:

  • Botoman VA, Bonner GF, et al. Management of inflammatory bowel disease. Am Fam Physician. 1998 Jan 1;57(1):57-68. Available at: http://www.aafp.org/afp/980101ap/botoman.html. Accessed October 1, 2014.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/ibd/. Updated January 14, 2014. Accessed October 1, 2014.

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