Inflammatory Bowel Diseases

By Guest Editor on Mar 29, 2016

IBD, or Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, may not be as well-known as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, but the two share a common identity: affecting the bowels, or intestines.

In IBD, the immune system mistakes food in the intestines as foreign bodies and the body attacks itself in the cells of the intestines with white blood cells. These white body cells swarm the intestine lining, causing chronic inflammation. Because this can happen every time a person eats, the condition becomes worse over time and can deeply affect a personn's quality of life without treatment.

There are different types of IBDs, including Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. With Crohn’s Disease, the small intestine is most often affected, and the beginning of the large bowel. All layers of the intestine may be infected or only some. There is a degree of differentiation from person to person. Symptoms include:

  • Persistent diarrhea
  • Cramping abdominal pain
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Fatigue

 With Ulcerative Colitis, inflammation occurs in the top layers of the colon, leading to slightly differentiated symptoms:

  • Progressive loosening of the stool
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Surgery can be required when medications are no longer effective

IBD can lead to complications, including bleeding from deep ulcerations, rupture of the bowel, and other causes of intestinal disruption. If you experience discomfort or any of the above symptoms after eating, speak with your primary care provider. IBD is often only diagnosed after other conditions have been ruled out and a series of tests have been performed, including a blood and fecal test, a colonoscopy, or even an MRI. Your doctor can determine what tests are right for you.