Inflammatory bowel disease can be the result of several conditions, like Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis. The condition, also called IBD, has a number of painful or difficult symptoms. These include severe abdominal pain and cramping, diarrhea, and bleeding from the intestines, which may be noted when you use the bathroom. The condition seems to occur or be diagnosed most frequently in people in their mid teens up to their early 30s, but this doesn’t mean children or older adults can’t get the condition.
Part of the reason inflammatory bowel disease creates these difficult symptoms is due to ulcers that form inside the rectum and colon. With Crohn’s disease, these ulcers are most likely to occur in the small and large intestine, and inflammation may affect the entire wall of the bowel. Ulcers forming from ulcerative colitis tend to begin at the rectum and remain in the large intestine, and inflammation is usually restricted to the lining of the bowel. Location of ulcers may help determine underlying causes of inflammatory bowel disease.
These ulcers can create great problems, and sometimes may result in infection. Moreover, people with this condition can have such severe diarrhea that they quickly become dehydrated or are unable to get adequate nutrients when they eat. Blood loss due to inflammatory bowel disease can also create persistent anemia, and people may suffer from constipation at times too. Inflammatory bowel disease may also affect daily living, since chronic diarrhea can mean frequent trips to the bathroom each day.
Diagnosis of IBD can be challenging and patients may need to undergo several procedures. Most commonly, patients undergo a colonoscopy. Doctors use this procedure to look for evidence of bowel inflammation, ulcers, and to take small tissue samples.
Currently, first line treatment for inflammatory bowel disease is through medications used to help reduce inflammation, called anti-inflammatory medications, and drugs that may suppress the immune system and result in fewer symptoms. Sometimes medication alone does not improve the condition and surgery may be required. Types of surgeries to treat inflammatory bowel disease vary tremendously and will depend on underlying cause.
Crohn’s disease may actually worsen when surgery is undertaken, but surgery may be still be necessary depending upon the severity of symptoms. With ulcerative colitis, the whole colon may require removal, but doctors are now able to perform surgeries that allow people to use the bathroom in normal fashion. This surgery, called an ileoanal anastomosis is a great improvement over past surgical methods, since primary objection to removal of the colon in the past was lifelong dependence on collecting waste outside the body in colostomy bags.