Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) involves chronic intestinal disorders causing inflammation of all or part of your digestive tract. IBD consists of ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Both usually involve severe diarrhea, pain, fatigue and weight loss. IBD can be debilitating and sometimes leads to life-threatening complications.
While there seems to be no specific cause of IBD, many medical professionals believe there’s a heavy genetic component, and you are more likely develop IBD if a direct relative has it. Others think it also has to do with immune system responses. When people get viral or bacterial infections, the immune system triggers a response that can inflame the digestive tract, and the inflammation goes away when the infection is gone. However, in cases for patients with IBD, the digestive tract sometimes gets inflammed without cause and attacks its own cells. This type of inflammation can cause IBD as well.
However, it’s important to know that while ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are under the IBD umbrella, they have their own distinct characteristics.
Symptoms include rectal bleeding, diarrhea abdominal cramps, weight loss and fever. In addition, patients who have had extensive ulcerative colitis for many years are at an increased risk to develop large bowel cancer.
Unlike Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn’s Disease not isolated to one area, it can affect any part of the GI tract from the mouth down to the colon. It typically affects the end of the small bowel, called the ileum, and the beginning of the colon.