Dealing with Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is an umbrella term for a group of disorders that can lead to inflammation of the intestines. It’s uncomfortable and for many people, it feels very embarrassing.

All the disorders under IBD can be extremely debilitating and are a result of the immune system attacking a harmless bacteria or food left in the gut, sometimes leading to permanent bowel injury. so what can be done? People need to make sure they educate themselves about IBD and be able to recognize the symptoms. Acting quickly upon discovering IBD can make it far more manageable.

Disorders Included in Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Ulcerative Colitis

This disorder is found within the colon or large intestine and causing long-lasting inflammation and ulcers throughout the entire digestive tract. Treatment is essential to reduce symptoms and keep away long-term complications that can result from prolonged damage to the digestive tract. The earlier treatment is begun, the better.

Symptoms

  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Weight-loss
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
Crohn’s Disease

Inflammation due to Crohn’s often can spread into deep layers of the bowel tissue. This prolonged inflammation can lead to symptoms of abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, weight-loss, dehydration and malnutrition. Ignoring symptoms may lead to life-threatening complications.

Symptoms

  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Reduced appetite
  • Mouth sores
  • Blood in stool

Causes of Inflammatory Bowel Disease

There are many causes that can lead to the various versions of IBD. Listed here are some of the most common ones, but it is not a full list.

  1. Immune system malfunction- this malfunction may cause the immune system to attack cells in the digestive tract
  2. Family history- If a close relative, such as a parent, sibling or child, suffers from IBD, you may also be at a higher risk
  3. Race or ethnicity- Caucasian individuals have the highest risk of suffering from this disorder
  4. Cigarette smoking- Frequent cigarette smoking is one of the most controllable risk factors for Crohn’s disease
  5. Age- Most people who develop IBD will have diagnosable symptoms before they reach the age of 30

Complications of Untreated IBD

  1. Constant intestinal bleeding due to ulcers
  2. Narrowing of the bowel- most common with Crohn’s
  3. Malnutrition
  4. Disease of the tissue around the anus and is most common in untreated Crohn’s
  5. Rupturing of the bowel

New Treatments for Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s

  1. Dietary changes- While this option may not cure your IBD, changing your diet may be a great way to manage symptoms. Since malnutrition is a common symptom, having a well-balanced diet can help relieve this symptom and aid in your overall well-being. A low-residue diet and reducing the amount of fiber and dairy consumed can help relieve the pain associated with IBD.  
  2. Medical treatment- This focus of this treatment is to reduce the frequency and intensity of flare-ups. The first approach of this method is to use the least harmful drugs for a short period of time. If this first step fails, the use of more potent drugs will be utilized.
  3. Surgical treatment- Depending on your age, your overall health and the extent of your IBD, removing the colon may be the last treatment option to fully cure ulcerative colitis. Crohn’s disease cannot be fully cured through surgery, and therefore, requires other treatment methods.  
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