Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is a group of disorders that cause swelling and inflammation in the intestines, affecting as many as 3 million Americans. Often confused with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), IBD refers to two chronic diseases: Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease.
While Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis have common features, there are important differences. Ulcerative Colitis affects the lining of the large intestine (colon), causing it to become inflamed and develop ulcers. Crohn’s Disease, on the other hand, can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract and causes inflammation that extends deeper into the intestinal wall than with Ulcerative Colitis. Crohn’s Disease is a disease that causes inflammation or swelling, and irritation of any part of the digestive tract—also called the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The part most commonly affected is the end part of the small intestine, called the ileum.
Symptoms of IBD can include:
- Mild to severe diarrhea
- Abdominal pain
- Rectal bleeding, sometimes leading to anemia
- Weight loss, dehydration & malnutrition
- Possible delayed development & stunted growth in children
- Certain types of arthritis & skin disorders
The cause of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is unknown, though many factors may be involved, including diet, environment and genetics.
The common pathway is inflammation of the lining of the intestinal tract, but the event that activates the body’s immune response has yet to be identified. Evidence suggests that genetic defects may affect how the immune system is switched on and off in response to bacteria, a virus or certain food proteins.
Diagnosis is the first step to getting relief.
Even with years of damage to the bowel, some Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) patients have no symptoms. When symptoms are present, they can mimic other disorders. For these reasons, diagnosing IBD is challenging. Upper and Lower Endoscopies permit direct visualization of the digestive anatomy and are the tools most commonly used for evaluating symptoms suggestive of IBD. Of course, medical history and other tests are also vital to the diagnosis. Follow-up is also important, as IBD, in particular Ulcerative Colitis, carries an increased risk of Colon Cancer.
The board-certified physicians at Suburban Gastroenterology have the skill and knowledge to differentiate the symptoms and determine if your problem is IBD or something else. Whatever the diagnosis, our specialists have not only the know-how to treat your disorder, but the dedication to help you live a more normal and rewarding life.
For the personalized, experienced and results-focused care you deserve, call Suburban Gastroenterology today: (630) 527-6450 or make an Appointment online.