Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is the umbrella term used to describe disorders that involve chronic inflammation of the digestive tract. IBD is a group of inflammatory conditions of the colon and small intestine.
There are two major types of inflammatory bowel disease, which are: 1. Ulcerative Colitis 2. Crohn’s Disease.
1. Ulcerative Colitis: This condition causes long-lasting inflammation and sores (ulcers) in the innermost lining of the large intestines (colon) and rectum.
2. Crohn’s Disease: This type of IBD is characterised by inflammation of the lining of the digestive tract, which often spreads deep into affected tissue.
Both ulcerative colitis and crohn’s disease usually involve severe diarrhea, abdominal pain, fatigue and weight loss. IBD can be debilitating and sometimes leads to life-threatening complications.
The exact cause of inflammatory bowel disease remains unknown. Previously, diet and stress were suspected, but these factors may only aggravate but do not cause the disease.
A possible cause is an immune system malfunction. When the immune system tries to fight off an invading virus and bacterium, an abnormal immune response causes the immune system to attack the cells in the digestive tract. Heredity also has a role to play, in that IBD is more common in people who have family members with the history of the disease. However, people can still have IBD without this family history.
The symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease vary, depending on the severity of inflammation and where it occurs. Symptoms may range from mild to severe. Symptoms of IBD include: diarrhea; abdominal pain and cramping; blood in stool; reduced appetite and unintended weight loss.
Ulcerative colitis and crohn’s disease have some complications in common and others that are specific to each condition. Complications found in both conditions may include: colon cancer; skin, eye and joint inflammation; blood clots; primary sclerosing cholangitis. Complications specific to ulcerative colitis include: toxic megacolon and perforated colon while bowel obstruction; malnutrition; ulcers; fistula and analysis fissures are specific to crohn’s disease.
The treatment of inflammatory bowel disease is specifically to reduce the inflammation that triggers the signs and symptoms. In the best cases, this may lead not only to symptoms relief but also long-term remission and reduced risks of complications. IBD treatment usually involves either drug therapy or surgery.