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Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is an umbrella term used to describe medical disorders that involve chronic inflammation of your digestive tract.

Types of IBD include:

  • Ulcerative colitis. This condition causes long-lasting inflammation and sores (ulcers) in the innermost lining of your large intestine (colon) and rectum.
  • Crohn’s disease. This type of IBD is characterized by inflammation of the lining of your digestive tract, which often spreads deep into affected tissues.

Both ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease usually involve severe diarrhea, abdominal pain, fatigue, and weight loss.

IBD can be debilitating and sometimes leads to life-threatening complications.

What are some signs & symptoms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease?

The most common symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease are diarrhea and stomach pain. Other symptoms include:

  • blood on toilet paper or in the stool (poop)
  • fever
  • low energy
  • weight loss

Inflammatory bowel disease can cause other difficulties such as joint pain, arthritis, rashes, eye difficulties, and liver problems. Kids with inflammatory bowel disease may not grow as well as other kids their age. Puberty may also occur later than usual.

What Causes IBD?

The precise cause of IBD is not clear. Science thinks it’s a combination of genetics, the immune system, and the environment that triggers inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract.

Diet and stress may make the symptoms worse.

Who Gets IBD?

IBD usually runs in families. But not everyone with IBD has a family history. Inflammatory bowel disease is usually diagnosed in teens and young adults but can happen at any age.

How Is IBD Diagnosed?

Inflammatory bowel disease is diagnosed with a combination of blood tests, stool tests, and X-rays. Medical imaging tests, such as MRI, CT scans might also be done.

The doctor will examine a stool sample for the presence of blood and might look at the colon with an endoscope if abnormalities are detected.

The procedure called a colonoscopy, a tube (endoscope) is inserted through the anus to allow the doctor to see if there are inflammation, ulcers or bleeding are on the wall of the colon. 

During the procedure, the doctor might perform a biopsy for further testing.

How Is IBD Treated?

IBD is treated with anti-inflammatory drugs to decrease inflammation, diet change, or surgery. The treatment is to relieve symptoms, prevent other difficulties, and prevent future flare-ups.

Surgery may be necessary if:

  • bleeding can’t be stopped
  • symptoms don’t respond to treatment
  • the bowel gets a hole
  • the bowel becomes blocked

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