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Blanchard Valley Surgical Specialists

Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD)

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What is IBD?
"IBD" stands for Inflammatory Bowel Diseases. The two most common types of IBD are Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. They are diseases of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract (also known as the digestive tract) that have very similar symptoms.

Crohn's disease versus ulcerative colitis
Crohn's disease can involve any part of your GI tract, from the mouth to the anus. Damage to teh lining of the GI tract usually affects the deep layers, not just the surface.

Ulcerative colitis involves on the rectum and some of the alrge intestine (colon). Damage to teh lining of the intestine is usually just on the surface.

Testing can help your doctor determine which type of IBD you have.

What are the symptoms of IBD?
IBD can cause symptoms inside and outside the GI tract, including:
  • Diarrhea
  • Crampin abdominal pain
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Constipation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite and/or weight
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Anemia
  • Arthritis
  • Sores in the mouth or on the skin
  • Eye inflammation


How serious is IBD?
It is important to remember that IBD is a lifelong (chronic) illness. Sometimes you will have symptoms (flare ups) and sometimes you will be sympton-free (in remission). Although there are treatments that can help you feel better, IBD currently cannot be cured. Most patients, however, lead full and productive lives.

What causes IBD?
Doctors don't know what causes IBD. However, they do know that IBD isnot caused by food or emotional stress, although stress canoften make IBD symptoms worse. And they know that IBD is not contagious, so no one gave IBD to you, and you cannot give it to anyone else.

IBD may run in families. About 10% to 16% of IBD patients have a close relative with IBD. It's more likely, however, that IBD is caused by a number of factors working together. For example, your genes might put you at risk for developing IBD. Then, if you come in contact with some kind of environmental trigger (like a virus or bacteria), the immune system is "turned on." Normally, your immune system protects you against disease. But, if your immune system can't "turn off", the lining of your GI tract is damaged and IBD can develop.

Is IBD common? <top>
IBD is not very common. Seven out of 100,000 people in the U.S. are affected with Crohn's disease. Ulcerative colitis affects about 11 out of 100,000 people. Men and women of all ages are affected, although IBD is most commonly diagnosed in persons between the ages of 15 and 30 years.

How is IBD diagnosed?
If IBD is suspected, your doctor will probably conduct a thourough medical history and physical examination and may also order any of the following tests:
  • Blood tests
  • Radiology
  • Upper endoscopy
  • Lower endoscopy (colonoscopy)
  • Biopsy
During an endoscopy, the doctor visually inspects the inside of the upper or lower part of the GI tract. This is done using a flexible, lighted tube that is placed in the GI tract.

How is IBD treated?
Since there is currently no cure for IBD, the goal of treatment is to relieve your symptoms and prevent symptoms from coming back. Medications that your doctor might prescribe include:
  • Drugs that fight inflammation (anti-inflammatory drugs)
  • Drugs that decrease the immune response (immunosuprressives)
  • Drugs that fight infection (antibiotics)
Another goal of treatment is to be sure you can get the nutrients you need. Special diets can help replace nutrients lost because of no appetite or frequent diarrhea. However, be sure to talk with your doctor before you change your diet or take any nutritional supplements such as vitamins or herbs.

Your doctor might recommend surgery at some time during your life. Surgery can be helpful to remove obstruction and repair damage to the GI tract. When medications don't work, surgery might be used to control the disease.

Where can I get more information about IBD?
Your doctor at Blanchard Valley Surgical Specialists is the best source of information for IBD. Other sources of information include:

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