Regional Gastrointestinal Consultants

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

Overview

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is not the same as Irritable Bow Syndrome (IBS). It is important not to confuse an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). IBS is a disorder that affects the muscle contractions of the bowel and is not characterized by intestinal inflammation, nor is it a chronic disease.

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which includes Crohn disease and ulcerative colitis (UC), is a relapsing and remitting condition characterized by chronic inflammation at various sites in the GI tract, which results in diarrhea and abdominal pain.

Inflammation results from a cell-mediated immune response in the GI mucosa. The precise etiology is unknown, but evidence suggests that the normal intestinal flora trigger an abnormal immune reaction in patients with a multifactorial genetic predisposition (perhaps involving abnormal epithelial barriers and mucosal immune defenses). No specific environmental, dietary, or infectious causes have been identified. The immune reaction involves the release of inflammatory mediators, including cytokines, interleukins, and TNF. The cause of inflammatory bowel disease is not known, but evidence suggests that normal intestinal bacteria trigger an abnormal immune reaction in people with a genetic predisposition.

The two primary types of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD); Crohn Disease and Ulcerative Colitis These two diseases have many similarities and sometimes are difficult to distinguish from each other. However, there are several differences. For example, Crohn disease can affect almost any part of the digestive tract, whereas ulcerative colitis almost always affects only the large intestine. Inflammatory bowel disease affects people of all ages, and both sexes are equally affected.

Symptoms

The symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease vary depending on which part of the intestine is affected and whether the person has Crohn disease or ulcerative colitis. People with Crohn disease usually have chronic diarrhea and abdominal pain. People with ulcerative colitis usually have intermittent episodes of abdominal cramps and bloody diarrhea. In both diseases, people with longstanding diarrhea may lose weight and become undernourished.

Sometimes IBD causes inflammation in other parts of the body such as the joints, eyes, mouth, liver, gallbladder, and skin. IBD also increases the risk of cancer in areas of the intestine that are affected.

Treatment

To make a diagnosis of inflammatory bowel disease, a doctor must first exclude other possible causes of inflammation. For example, infection with parasites or bacteria may cause inflammation. Therefore, the doctor does several tests. Stool and blood tests and tissue biopsy.

Stool samples are analyzed for evidence of a bacterial or parasitic infection (acquired during travel, for example), including a type of bacterial infection (Clostridium DifficileInfection) that can result from antibiotic use. Tests may also be done to detect sexually transmitted diseases of the rectum, such as gonorrhea, herpes virus infection, and chlamydial infection.

Tissue samples may be taken from the lining of the rectum during sigmoidoscopy (an examination of the sigmoid colon using a viewing tube) and examined microscopically for evidence of other causes of colon inflammation (colitis). This removal and examination of tissue is called a biopsy.

Doctors also consider other disorders that cause similar abdominal symptoms such as irritable bowel syndrome, ischemic colitis (which occurs more often in people older than 50), malabsorption, certain gynecologic disorders in women, and celiac disease. The doctor may do imaging studies, such as x-rays, computed tomography (CT), or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the abdomen, to rule out other disorders. The doctor may do video capsule endoscopy to evaluate the intestines of people who have Crohn disease.

Although there is no cure for IBD, diet and stress management help in some cases, and in other cases there are many drugs, including aminosalicylates, corticosteroids, immunomodulating drugs, biologic agents, and antibiotics, which can help reduce inflammation and relieve the symptoms of IBD. In some events with people with severe disease sometimes surgery is needed.

IMPORTANT HEALTH NOTE

We recommend that people experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms do not attempt self-treatment. With many medications being available over the counter, and numerous do-it-yourself online unqualified remedy recommendation, it is natural to consider treating yourself but we highly recommend against this.

If you are experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms you may have a more significant issue than you would expect from the sometimes muted or infrequent symptom you may be experiencing. It is important to keep in mind that is you are having gastrointestinal symptoms or concerns it is best see a doctor to have those symptoms diagnosed and any conditions treated. Also, it is worth noting, that if health conditions do exist, the earlier they are diagnosed and treated, the greater the probability will be to successfully eliminate or manage a present condition, in fact successful outcomes will increase significantly with early detection.

If you have gastrointestinal concerns or are experiencing any gastrointestinal symptoms, please contact us promptly to schedule a consultation with a physician.


DISCLAIMER: PLEASE READ CAREFULLY

The information on this website is to provide general information. In no way, does any of the information provided reflect definitive medical advice and self-diagnoses should not be made based on information obtained online. It is important to consult a best in class physician regarding ANY and ALL symptoms or signs as it may a sign of a serious illness or condition. A thorough consultation and examination should ALWAYS be performed for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Be sure to call a physician or call our office today at (215) 321-4700 to schedule a consultation.