Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) represents a group of intestinal disorders that cause prolonged inflammation of the digestive tract.The digestive tract comprises the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and large intestine. It’s responsible for breaking down food, extracting the nutrients, and removing any unusable material and waste products. Inflammation anywhere along the digestive tract disrupts this normal process. IBD can be very painful and disruptive, and in some cases, it may even be life-threatening.
As with other chronic diseases, a person with IBD will generally go through periods in which the disease flares up and causes symptoms, followed by periods in which symptoms decrease or disappear and good health returns. Symptoms range from mild to severe and generally depend upon what part of the intestinal tract is involved. They include:
There is no exact cause of IBD. IBD is called an idiopathic disease (disease with an unknown cause). Possible causes may be:
Possible complications of IBD include:
In rare cases, a severe bout of IBD can make you go into shock. This can be life-threatening. Shock is usually caused by blood loss during a long, sudden episode of bloody diarrhea.
The tests depend on the symptoms of IBD that include –
There are a number of different treatments for IBD.
Anti-inflammatory drugs are the first step in IBD treatment. These drugs decrease inflammation of the digestive tract. However, they have many side effects. Anti-inflammatory drugs used for IBD include sulfasalazine and its byproducts as well as corticosteroids.
Immune suppressants (or immunomodulators) prevent the immune system from attacking the bowel and causing inflammation. This group includes drugs that block TNF. TNF is a chemical produced by the immune system that causes inflammation. Excess TNF in the blood is normally blocked, but in people with IBD, higher levels of TNF can lead to more inflammation. Immune suppressants can have many side effects, including rashes and infections.
Antibiotics are used to kill bacteria that may trigger or aggravate IBD symptoms. Antidiarrheal drugs and laxatives can also be used to treat IBD symptoms.
Lifestyle choices are important when you have IBD. Drinking plenty of fluids helps to compensate for those lost in your stool. Avoiding dairy products and stressful situations also improves symptoms. Exercising and quitting smoking can further improve your health.
Vitamin and mineral supplements can help with nutritional deficiencies. For example, iron supplements can treat anemia.
Surgery can sometimes be necessary for people with IBD. Some IBD surgeries include: