Inflammatory bowel disease or IBD is not just one but a group of intestinal disorders that cause prolonged inflammation in the esophagus, mouth, stomach, small and large intestines; collectively referred to as the digestive tract. Its functions include breaking down food, removing waste products and extracting nutrients from food and any inflammation anywhere in the digestive tract hinders normal functioning. IBDs are not to be taken lightly and a lot of cases are painful and problematic while a few are even life threatening. If you’re considering IND treatment, read on to learn about the types of IBD, its causes, complications and inflammatory bowel disease treatment.
Many diseases come under the term IBD and the two most prominent ones are Ulcerative colitis, which involves inflammation of the large intestine albeit restricted to just the digestive tract, if left untreated it can cause other non-digestive issues. The other is Crohn’s disease, which can cause inflammation anywhere along the digestive tract but most cases are related to the tail end of the small intestine.
The symptoms of IBD will depend on where the inflammation is and how severe is it, there are a few common symptoms like diarrhoea, bleeding ulcers, stomach cramps, stomachache, bloating, weight loss, anemia, and bleeding ulcers associated with the disease. All of these are related to hinderances in the normal functioning of the digestive system. Patients who have Crohn’s disease can also develop canker sores in the mouth and sometimes ulcers and fissures appear near the genitals or anus. An IBD can also lead to complications that occur outside the digestive system like arthritis, eye inflammation and skin disorders.
The exact causes of IBD are yet to be fathomed completely but there are well known factors that contribute to increasing the risk of the disease.
The immune system
A person’s immune system could also have a say in developing IBD. Our immune system is meant to protect the body against pathogens (disease causing organisms) and an infection in the digestive tract will trigger a response from the immune system. As the body prepares its immune response, the digestive tract gets inflamed. If the response is a healthy immune response, the inflammation will be gone as and when the infection subsides. However, for those with IBD, digestive tract inflammation occurs without any infection in the digestive tract and to make matters worse, the immune system begins attacking the body’s own cells instead. IBDs may not get better even if the inflammation doesn’t go away despite the infection being cured, this inflammation can continue for months and even years.
People whose parents, siblings, or children have IBD are at considerably greater risk of developing the disease themselves. Scientists have been studying this and studies strongly point to a genetic connection with respect to IBD
Smoking is a major risk factor for Crohn’s disease and it also worsens its symptoms and increases the risk of further complications.
On the other hand, ulcerative colitis mainly affects nonsmokers and those who quit smoking.
People can get IBD at any age, but most cases occur in people before the age of 35.
Those who reside in urban cities and developed areas are certainly face greater risk of developing IBD as they tend to consume more junk/fast food, processed and saturated food; all of which have been linked to developing the disease, global studies have shown.
Somehow, people living in cold northern climates and those who lead a sedentary lifestyle are at increased risk of developing IBD. Other studies have shown promise in physical activity reducing the risk of IBD.
IBD affects men and women equally but ulcerative colitis is more common among men aged 45 or above, while Crohn’s disease is more common among girls and women after the age 14.
Potential complications like weight loss, fistulas, inflamed intestines which causes intestinal rupture or perforation, constipation and bowel obstruction. A severe episode bloody diarrhoea due to IBD can put people in shock and is potentially life-threatening, though rare.
After asking about your family and medical history, a doctor may conduct a physical exam and order some tests like stool samples, blood tests, to check for other diseases and infections.
An X-ray exam of the colon and small intestine was done in the past but new tests have mostly replaced it. A colonoscopy will examine the full length of the large intestine while a sigmoidoscopy will examine the last 20 inches of the large intestine, a biopsy may also be performed for confirming the IBD.
A capsule endoscopy inspects the small intestine, which is much harder to do than examining the large intestine and this is done other tests fail to determine the cause of Crohn’s disease.
An X-Ray is used in emergency situations if intestinal rupture is suspected. CT scans are best for getting detailed images and are ideal for examining the small intestine
and even detecting other complications of IBD.
An MRI will be particularly beneficial for examining soft tissues and checking for fistulas. Both these tests can help determine the extent of internal damage owing to IBD and IBD treatment will also depend on their findings.