Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is used to describe conditions involved with chronic inflammation of a portion or all of the digestive tract, primarily ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Lymphocytic colitis and collagenous colitis are considered inflammatory bowel disease as well, but are usually seen as separate entities from traditional IBD.
Ulcerative colitis is an IBD that causes chronic inflammation and sores known as ulcers within the innermost lining of the colon and rectum. There are five types of ulcerative colitis, classified by the location of the inflammation and severity of symptoms:
This IBD causes inflammation of the lining of sections of both the large and small intestine, spreading deeply into the affected tissues.
Symptoms for ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease may vary depending on the location and severity of the inflammation, with flare-ups of symptoms followed by remission. Symptoms for both include:
In order to diagnose IBD, other causes for symptoms must first be ruled out, including:
Your physician will use a combination of tests to confirm a diagnosis. One or more of the following tests may be conducted:
While there is no cure for IBD, the goal for your physician is to reduce the amount of inflammation that initiates symptoms, potentially leading to symptom relief and remission of symptoms overall as well. To accomplish this, your physician may either begin with milder drugs for the beginning of treatment and gradually move to stronger drugs, or start with stronger drugs and progressively move to milder drugs.
Treatments for IBD may include:
Surgery may be recommended to treat IBD when all other forms of treatment have been exhausted:
The surgical treatment for this condition is known as a proctocolectomy, a procedure in which the colon and rectum are surgically removed and a pouch is created from the end of the small intestine. The pouch is then attached directly to the anus to allow for normal excrement.
When a pouch is not possible, an opening in the abdomen is created through which waste passes and is collected in a bag.
While almost half of patients need at least one surgery for Crohn’s disease, it does not cure the condition.
During the procedure, the damaged portion of the intestine is removed and the healthy portions are connected together. However, the benefits of this surgery are temporary, with the disease typically reoccurring at the reconnected tissue. Medication may be recommended following surgery to aid in minimizing the risk of reoccurrence.
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