What are the Causes, Symptoms & Treatments for Inflammatory Bowel Disease(IBD)
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is an umbrella term that refers to a group of chronic digestive disorders with symptoms that cause inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract. Types of IBD include:
- Ulcerative colitis is a condition where the colon and rectum experience inflammation and develop sores or ulcers along their lining.
- Crohn’s disease is a type of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) that causes inflammation in the lining of your digestive system. It can progress to the deeper layers of your gastrointestinal tract as well.
Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are usually differ by symptoms for inflammatory bowel disease such as diarrhea, rectal bleeding, abdominal pain, fatigue, and weight loss.
Table of contents
- Symptoms & Causes of inflammatory bowel disease
- Diagnosis of symptoms for inflammatory bowel disease
- Treatment for symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease
Symptoms & Causes of inflammatory bowel disease
The causes of symptoms for inflammatory bowel disease is still a mystery. Although diet and stress had initially been theorized to be the root cause, further research has confirmed that they are more likely to worsen the condition than the actual cause.
A potential root cause of these issues may be an aberration in the immune system. When the body is combating a virus or bacterium, it can sometimes mistake cells in your gut as part of the invader, leading to an immune response that can damage those cells.
Genetics have beenin relation to IBD through gene mutations. The observation is that if a family member is having IBD, the chances of affecting other members of the family by it become higher.
Symptoms for inflammatory bowel disease
Inflammatory bowel diseases come with a range of symptoms depending on the level of inflammation and its location. Symptoms that are shared by Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis include:
- Abdominal pain and cramping
- Blood in your stool
- Reduced appetite
- Unintended weight loss
Diagnosis of symptoms for inflammatory bowel disease
- Your doctor could suggest taking a blood test to check for anemia – when there is an insufficient number of red blood cells to carry enough oxygen throughout your body. Along with that, we can detect other infections through this testing.
- To gain further insight into your health, your healthcare provider may request that you provide a stool sample for examination. This procedure is necessary to test for any undetectable (occult) blood or organisms, such as parasites, that might be present in your feces.
- A colonoscopy allows your provider to view your entire colon using a thin, flexible, lighted tube with a camera at the end.
- Your doctor may conduct a Flexible Sigmoidoscopy to check your rectum & sigmoid, the last part of your colon. This process uses a flexible, lighted tube for a thorough inspection. If there is severe inflammation in the colon, we prefer this test instead of having to go through an entire Colonoscopy.
- An upper endoscopy is a medical exam wherein your healthcare provider inserts a thin, lighted tube into your esophagus, stomach, and the first portion of the small intestine (duodenum). The tube allows them to look inside and inspect these areas.
- Capsule endoscopy is becoming a popular method for diagnosing Crohn’s disease in the small intestine. It involves swallowing a tiny capsule that has a camera inside. The images are wirelessly to a recorder on your belt and then painlessly pass out of your body in your stool.
- Balloon-assisted enteroscopy is a diagnostic procedure that utilizes a scope and an overture device. This allows the technician to examine parts of the small bowel which are inaccessible for standard endoscopes.
Imaging procedures for symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease
- Your doctor may use an X-ray of your abdominal area to identify any significant complications if you experience severe symptoms. This helps rule out the presence of a megacolon or a perforated colon.
- Computerized tomography (CT) scan is a specialized type of X-ray that offers a higher level of detail and accuracy than standard X-rays. You can get this scan done to acquire further insight into the issue you may be facing.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a great choice for diagnosing fistulas & other issues in and around the anal area (pelvic MRI) or the small intestine (MR enterography). Unlike CT, it does not expose you to radiation which makes it an even safer option.
Treatment for symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease
The primary objective of treating inflammatory bowel disease is to reduce the inflammation that causes its characteristic signs and symptoms. IBD treatments can lead to long-term symptom relief and reduced risks of complications, and typically involve drugs or surgery.
Anti-inflammatory medications are usually the first line of treatment for mild to moderate cases of ulcerative colitis.
Corticosteroids are frequently used to induce remission, and come with limited-time durations. As they contain anti-inflammatory properties, they can also suppress the immune system. The type of medication you’ll need to take depends on the part of your colon that’s been affected.
Immune system suppressors
These types of drugs are effective in reducing the immune system’s production of inflammatory substances. If left unchecked, these substances can harm the lining of our digestive tracts. By controlling their release, we can avoid potential damage to our digestive system.
Biologics is a type of therapy that target the proteins in your body causing inflammation. They can be administered through IV infusions or self-injections, and they provide immediate relief from pain & discomfort.
Antibiotics for symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease
In some cases, such as perianal Crohn’s disease, we can take antibiotics alongside other medications or when the infection is a primary concern. Ciprofloxacin (Cipro) and metronidazole (Flagyl) are two of the most common antibiotics for this purpose.
Other medications and supplements
Speak to your doctor before taking any over-the-counter medications, as they may be able to provide relief from inflammation-related symptoms. However, some medications are specifically designed to help control inflammation too. Depending on your IBD diagnosis, your doctor could suggest treatments that may include:
- To soothe mild to moderate diarrhea, dietary fiber such as psyllium powder (Metamucil) or methylcellulose (Citrucel) can be beneficial by increasing the bulk of your stool. Additionally, anti-diarrheal medications may be recommended.
- Your physician may suggest acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) for minor aches & pains.
- If you’re finding it difficult to get enough nutrients from your diet, your physician might suggest you take vitamins or nutritional supplements. Also, Vitamins and dietary supplements are now commonly support one’s health and well-being.
Surgery for inflammatory bowel disease
If other treatments don’t help manage your IBD, your healthcare provider may suggest surgery as an option. It’s important to try changing your diet and lifestyle along with taking medication before considering surgery.
- Ulcerative colitis surgery can be the best option for many sufferers. It involves the removal of the large intestine and rectum and then creating a pouch that is, to the anus, allowing them to have normal bowel movements without a bag.
- Surgery is a common and often necessary solution for Crohn’s Disease. Though, it’s important to note that even with this type of treatment the condition cannot be cured completely. Roughly two-thirds of people with this illness will require surgery at least once in their lifetime.
- Surgery is often the chosen treatment for digestive tract damage and other related ailments. It involves removing the affected part and reconnecting the healthy sections. In some cases, it can also be used to close fistulas or drain abscesses.
BD not only has a physical effect on you, but it can also cause emotional distress. Severe cases of this condition may require you to constantly be searching for a toilet, Even if your symptoms are mild, being out in public can be difficult and it can detract from your daily activities. This can ultimately affect your lifestyle & lead to depression.
Inflammatory bowel disease symptoms may initially lead you to a general practitioner, but the best course of action is to book an appointment with a gastroenterologist, who specializes in treating digestive disorders. This can ensure that you are receiving the correct diagnosis and treatment for your condition.
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