Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a chronic inflammation of the digestive tract. IBD typically includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. It should not be confused with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), [link to Conditions> IBS page] as these two gastrointestinal disorders are very different. IBD is a disease that causes inflammation, while IBS is a syndrome that does not cause inflammation.
The exact cause of IBD is unknown. But studies indicate that incidence of IBD may be heightened for older adults and those who are Caucasian. Smoking or taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications can also be a contributing factor.
Crohn’s disease [link to Conditions> Crohn's Disease page] is an IBD that ususally occurs as inflammation in the small intestine, although it can affect any part of the digestive tract. Ulcerative colitis [link to Conditions> Ulcerative Colitis page] is an IBD that produces ongoing inflammation and ulcers inside your large intestine and rectum.
- Abdominal pain
- Bloody stool
- Loss of appetite
- Unexplained weight loss
Symptoms of IBD can vary greatly, so it is best to contact a gastrointestinal specialist for evaluation and diagnosis.
Depending on your background and symptoms, a GI doctor may order multiple screenings to screen for IBD. They may conduct blood tests, endoscopic procedures or imaging procedures to make a proper diagnosis.
Although there is no cure for IBD, drugs or surgery can alleviate your symptoms and reduce inflammation. Ultimately the treatment plan depends on the specific diagnosis. The primary goal is to prevent future inflammation, which over time can damage the intestines. Please consult with one of our GI doctors if you have symptoms of IBD.