Inflammatory bowel diseases are a group of inflammatory conditions that can occur in your colon and your small intestine. The two main types of inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s Disease and indeterminate colitis. Not only does Crohn’s affect your small and large intestines, but it also affects your mouth, your esophagus, your stomach, and your anus. Crohn’s disease can skip large segments of your bowel before reappearing in others. The inflammation that is caused by Crohn’s disease is not only confined to the lining of your bowels (mucosa), but can burrow through the entire thickness of your bowel wall. Ulcerative Colitis is a disease primarily affects your colon and your rectum. the innermost lining of your colon, also known as the mucosa, becomes inflamed. Ulcerative colitis spreads proximally, meaning it starts from the rectum and spreads continuously to the rest of your large intestine.
Although Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are very different condition, both can occur with any of the following symptoms:
- Abdominal Pain
- Extreme Fatigue
- Fecal Urgency
- Internal Cramps in Pelvis
- Muscle Spasms in Pelvis
- Rectal Bleeding
- Weight Loss
In 25-40% of patients, the classic signs and symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease may be accompanied by symptoms affecting the following areas of your body:
These non-bowel related symptoms are known as extraintestinal manifestations (EIMs). Children who develop inflammatory bowel disease often experience problems growing and have no outward signs of an inflamed bowel. Because your gut has a limited number of ways to show it is in distress, many of the above symptoms are non-specific and can be related to other gastrointestinal conditions. These conditions include:
- Celiac Sprue
- Colorectal Cancer
- Gallbladder Disease
- Infectious Gastroenteritis
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Stomach Ulcers
- Traveler’s Diarrhea
Ruling out these other diseases is part of the diagnostic process for inflammatory bowel disease.
Other diseases associated with inflammatory bowel diseases
Anemia (a condition in which your blood does not have enough red blood cells) is the most common extraintestinal (not related to your intestines) complication of inflammatory bowel disease. Other associated complaints or diseases are:
- Bronchiolitis Obliterans Organizing Pneumonia (BOOP)
- Deep-Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
- Non-Thyroidal Illness Syndrome (NTIS)
- Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis
- Pyoderma Gangrenosum
Inflammatory bowel disease is complex. It arises as a result of your environmental and genetic situation. These factors influence your immunological responses and the possible inflammation that can occur in your intestine. Some of the considered causes of IBD are:
- Breach of Intestinal Barrier
Keep in mind that IBD is a chronic illness that needs proactive care. To manage your inflammatory bowel disease successfully, you need to begin the process with an accurate diagnosis. Your physician needs to identify the extent of your inflammatory bowel disease, as well as the precise location of your gastrointestinal tract that is affected.
If you are experiencing severe gastrointestinal symptoms that are not responding to ever the counter treatments or resolving on their own, you need to get help quickly. While you may want to may a visit to your primary care provider first, you may also need to see a doctor that specializes in gastrointestinal issue. This type of medical specialist has the title of a gastroenterologist. A gastroenterologist can help you make a diagnosis and initiate the proper treatment. Try to seek out a gastroenterologist that specialized in treating inflammatory bowel diseases. Finding out if you have inflammatory bowel disease can require you to take many tests. Some of the diagnostic tests your physician may use to make a definite inflammatory bowel disease diagnosis are:
- Blood Work
- Colonoscopy with Biopsy
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging
- Stool Tests
These tests will also help your doctor monitor the ongoing status of your Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.
Remission and prevention of flares are the goals of treatment therapy for inflammatory bowel disease. The treatments can be either medical or surgical in nature, or in many cases, a combination of both, depending on whether your diagnosis is Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. The following drugs are usually used to help patients with inflammatory bowel diseases:
- Anti-Diarrheal Medications
- Anti-Inflammatory Drugs
- Calcium Supplements
- Immune System Suppressors
- Iron Supplements
- Vitamin B-12 Shots
- Vitamin D Supplements
Sometimes surgery is needed if therapy along with diet and lifestyle changes don’t relieve your IBD signs and symptoms.
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