Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
Ulcerative colitis & Crohn’s Disease
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a disease of the intestines which causes inflammation in the bowel. Symptoms of IBD include but not limited to diarrhea, bleeding, and abdominal pain. IBD can also be associated with arthritis, eye disease, kidney problems such as stones, liver problems, and skin disease.
There are two main types of IBD, which include ulcerative colitis and crohn’s disease.
Ulcerative Colitis– this type of inflammation occurs in the colon and extends from the anal verge in an uninterrupted pattern to involve all parts of the colon.
Crohn’s Disease– this type of inflammation involves the full thickness of the intestines and can involve the entire GI tract at any level from mouth to anus.
Genetics can play a role in IBD. About 15% of patients with IBD have at least one family member with IBD.
Diagnosis of IBD is generally made after a comprehensive evaluation of a patient with problems such as chronic diarrhea, abdominal pain, and bloody stools. Your physician will take a thorough history, perform a physical exam, and check important blood tests, and proceed with performing a colonoscopy for evaluation and biopsy of the mucosa.
Treatment of IBD is very individualized based on severity of disease and quality of life. In general, corticosteroids are the first line therapy to induce remission in a patient with severe disabling symptoms. In patients with mild disease, corticosteroid therapy may not be necessary.
Although corticosteroids are very helpful in the short term, they fail to work if used chronically (past 3 months), because they lose efficacy. The problem with corticosteroid therapy, if used long term, includes side-effects such as weight gain, bone disease, and diabetes. Therefore, once you are in remission, your doctor will most likely switch your therapy to achieve the same results with less side-effect.
Finally, patients with ulcerative colitis and crohn’s disease are at an increased risk for colon cancer, and this remains an important cause for mortality in patients with IBD. Make sure that you are being properly followed by a gastroenterologist who will perform a surveillance colonoscopy on you as needed to discover colon cancer at its beginning stages where treatment is simple and curable.