What is IBD?
The Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is an inclusive name for a string of maladies in which the intestines are red and swollen due to an inflammation that resulted from the body’s negative immune reaction to the tissues of its own intestines. Why the body should reject its own parts and what are the factors or combinations of factors that set off the process is a mystery. Therefore, the disease is referred to as an idiopathic disease, a disease with an unknown cause. There seems to be a genetic predisposition or susceptibility to the disease but genetic, infectious, immunologic and psychological factors have been equally blamed for the development of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease.
Types of Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Their Symptoms
The two major types of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease are:
- The Ulcerative Colitis (UC) which only affects the colon (the large intestine).
- The Crohn Disease (CD) which mostly affects the small intestines although it can actually affect any part of the digestive systems; starting at the mouth and ending at the anus.
Because both these types of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease are chronic and, therefore, last for an extended period of time, they run through varying courses of intensity and severity. When the inflammation is acute, the disease is said to be active. When there is an easing of the inflammation or an absence, the disease is considered to be in remission.
Depending on the intensity of the inflammation and its locations along the digestive system, the symptoms may vary from mild to brutal but most of sufferers of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease experience the following:
- Damaged intestinal walls.
- Abdominal cramps and pains.
- Bloody diarrhea which also results in anemia.
- Urgent and frequent needs to have a bowl movement.
- Loss of appetite that leads to weight loss.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease Complications
As if the Inflammatory Bowel Disease is not enough to deal with, it often leads to a long list of complications:
- Uncontrolled hemorrhaging from the ulcers.
- Rupturing of the bowel.
- Strictures and obstructions in Crohn Disease can be resolved with medication or surgery. In Ulcerative Colitis, strictures and obstructions are often malignant tumors.
- A fistulae is an abnormal passage which usually occurs in Crohn Disease, it often requires surgery and it tends to reappear recurrently.
- Toxic megacolon is an acute non-obstructive dilation of the colon in cases of Ulcerative Colitis. It can lead to fatalities if corrective surgery is not performed urgently.
- Whether it is the Crohn Disease or the Ulcerative Colitis, the risk of malignant cancer at the site of the inflammation is substantially raised above that of the general public.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease Treatment
It is important to follow a healthful diet which does not aggravate the condition further and then there is a long list of medications that are designed to first relieve the symptoms of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease and then to reduce the rate and length of the flare-ups with antibiotics, aminosalycylates, corticosteroids, immune modifiers, anti-TNF agents, and others. In some cases, surgical intervention is in order.