Inflammatory Bowel Disease is an umbrella term to describe several different diseases of the GI tract marked by inflammation. Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are two of the most well known and serious forms of IBD. Both Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis can be very serious and affect a patients quality of life. The cause of IBD is not completely understood at this time. It is thought to be a type of autoimmune disorder, where a patient’s own immune system actually attacks and damages systems rather than protecting them from invading bacteria. A less severe form of IBD, microscopic colitis, is also associated with the overuse of NSAIDs. NSAIDs are over the counter pain relievers marketed as Ibuprofen.
The symptoms vary depending on which type of IBD is diagnosed. In general, symptoms include:
- Blood in the stool
- Weight loss
When seen in children, IBD may effect growth and onset of puberty.
In order to diagnosis an IBD, your doctor will need a complete medical history and will likely order a variety of lab tests. A colonoscopy or endoscopy, or both, is normally required to confirm an IBD. Because having IBD raises a patient's risk of developing colon cancer, periodic colon screenings will be necessary. Your gastroenterologist will discuss your personal screening schedule with you.
There is currently not a cure for IBD, but there are treatments that can help alleviate symptoms and even put the disease into remission. It is important to take all medications as directed and to follow-up with your physician.
Flare ups can be serious, so working with your Needham Gastroenterology physician is essential.