Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Man holding stomach | Healthier Me Today

Inflammatory bowel disease is a long-term condition that occurs when the digestive tract (the small and large intestine, esophagus, mouth, and stomach) is inflamed or swollen. While the condition can affect any part of the digestive tract, a report from the CDC shows that it usually affects the small intestine.

Presently over 3.1 million people in the United States suffer from the condition. As can be seen in a study in 2013, inflammatory bowel disease is prevalent in women, but it can also affect men.

While inflammatory bowel disease isn’t a life-threatening condition, you should seek prompt medical attention as it can cause life-threatening complications if left untreated.

Types of Inflammatory Bowel Disease

There are two types of inflammatory bowel disease- Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Below is an overview of each of them.

Crohn’s disease

Crohn’s disease usually causes inflammation close to the end of the small intestine but can occur in any part of the digestive tract.

According to the NIDDK (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases), Crohn’s disease affects over 500,000 people in the United States. It is common in individuals between the ages of 20-29.

Ulcerative colitis

Ulcerative colitis causes mild to severe inflammation in the colon.

Symptoms and diagnosis of Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Below are some symptoms associated with inflammatory bowel diseases.

  • Stomach pain
  • Joint pain
  • Anemia
  • Cramping
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Bleeding ulcers
  • Bloating
  • Skin conditions  
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Presence of blood in the stool
  • Fever
  • Canker sores
  • Fissures

Diagnosis of Inflammatory Bowel Disease

To determine if you have the condition, your doctor will ask about your bowel movements and your family history and carry out a physical exam. Below are a few other tests that can diagnose the condition.

Stool sample

Sample of your stool will be collected and tested for infections and other health conditions.

Blood test

A small amount of blood will be collected and tested. Blood tests can help determine the type of IBD a patient has.

Capsule endoscopy

Here you will be asked to swallow a capsule embedded with a camera. The camera will take clear images as it moves through the small intestine. Later on, you will pass out the device (with stool). Your doctor will examine the data in the device on a computer.

Barium enema

This is an x-ray that can examine the small intestine and the colon.  

How to Treat Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Your doctor may recommend the following to address Inflammatory Bowel disease.  

Medications

  • Biologics – These are made for patients with mild to severe inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Immunomodulators – This prevents the immune system from causing inflammation in the digestive tract.
  • 5-ASA drugs – This helps to reduce inflammation in the small intestine.
  • Antibiotics – They eliminate the bacteria in the intestine that may cause or intensify the symptoms of the condition.
  • Antidiarrheal drugs – These help to normalize bowel movement

Surgery

Your doctor may recommend a surgical procedure if the condition is severe. Below are some common IBD surgeries.

  • Complete removal of the rectum or colon
  • Removal of fistulas
  • Expanding of a narrowed bowel
  • Removal of damaged parts of the intestines

Lifestyle choices

  • Increase your water intake – This will help replenish lost fluid.
  • Regular Exercise – Exercising regularly will improve your health if you have the condition.
  • Avoid triggers – Dairy products and high-stress levels can intensify the symptoms of the condition. 

How to manage Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Below are some natural remedies for inflammatory bowel diseases. Make sure you consult your doctor before trying any of them.

Herbal remedies

A 2019 study found that natural herbs like aloe vera, Boswellia serrata, gum resin, Wheatgrass juice, and Andrographis paniculata extract can help quell the symptoms associated with the condition.

Probiotics

Probiotics are microorganisms that are present in foods like yogurt. A study conducted in 2019 found that 50% of people who had IBD and took probiotics experienced an improvement in their symptoms.


FAQ

  1. What increases the risk of developing Inflammatory Bowel Disease? Below are some factors that can make one more likely to develop inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Age
  • Family history
  • Usage of anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Smoking cigarette

2. How do I prevent inflammatory bowel disease? Here are a few things you can do to reduce the odds of your developing the condition.

  • Quit smoking
  • Workout regularly
  • Eat nutrient-rich foods  

Healthier Me Today is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment, always consult with your healthcare professional. Stay healthy!

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Mark started working hard, protecting species, educating people and campaigning with Mary from day one

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