Inflammatory Bowel Disease

(IBD; Regional Enteritis; Ileitis; Granulomatous Ileocolitis; Ulcerative Colitis)
  • 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

    Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians http://www.familydoctor.org

    National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov

    CANADIAN RESOURCES

    The College of Family Physicians of Canada http://www.cfpc.ca

    Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

    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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