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What is Bowel Inflammation?

By Meshell Powell
Updated May 17, 2024
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Bowel inflammation is a medical condition in which the intestines become red and swollen. The term inflammatory bowel disease is used to describe this condition and may be caused by such disorders as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Symptoms of bowel inflammation may include abdominal cramps, diarrhea, or weight loss. Treatment for bowel inflammation usually includes dietary changes and the use of prescription medications, although surgical intervention may become necessary in some situations.

Crohn's disease is a common cause of bowel inflammation and primarily affects the lower portion of the small intestine. The exact cause of Crohn's disease is unknown, although it is believed to be related to problems with the patient's immune system. Common symptoms of Crohn's disease include abdominal pain, especially in the lower right portion of the abdomen and diarrhea, which may come and go without notice. Other potential symptoms include rectal bleeding, fever, and weight loss. Some patients may also develop skin problems or arthritis as a result of having Crohn's disease.

Treatment for Crohn's disease often begins with the use of prescription medications and nutritional supplements. Symptoms often disappear for a while and then come back, but many doctors recommend continuing to take the prescribed medications, even during periods of remission. If these methods of treatment are not successful, surgery may be performed in order to remove the damaged part of the intestine.

Ulcerative colitis is another condition that is frequently responsible for bowel inflammation. Ulcerative colitis causes sores known as ulcers to form in the intestines and the rectum. This condition is thought to stem from an autoimmune disorder, and symptoms may be triggered by stress or an intolerance to certain foods. Common symptoms of ulcerative colitis include fatigue, loss of appetite, and rectal bleeding. Patients, particularly children, may also experience joint pain, anemia, or stunted growth.

Symptoms of ulcerative colitis tend to come and go, and treatment typically consists of taking a combination of several prescription medications in the hopes that the condition will go into remission. Dehydration due to a loss of fluids through diarrhea or rectal bleeding may cause some patients to be temporarily hospitalized so that these lost fluids can be replaced. Many patients with this type of bowel inflammation will require surgery to remove part or all of the intestines. This typically becomes necessary if there is massive bleeding or in cases where the colon has ruptured.

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