Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is a painful condition of the bowels. There are at least two types of inflammatory bowel disease: Crohn’s disease, which generally occurs in adolescence, and Ulcerative colitis, which may occur at older ages. In addition to abdominal pain, other symptoms include diarrhea that can wake a person up at night, rectal bleeding, and mucus in stools, weight loss, fever, and anemia. While it is not known what caused IBD, the chronic inflammation of the bowels seems to run in families (genetic mutations) and can be triggered by environmental factors (such as stress, medicines, or smoking). In addition to bowel inflammation, there can also be painful arthritis in the joints, purplish spots on the skin, painful lesions in the mouth or eyes, and disturbances in other organs. IBD often requires blood and stool tests, x-rays or CT scans, and upper and lower endoscopy (EGD and colonoscopy) to diagnose. Treatment can be quite complicated and may require medicine to suppress the immune system from attacking the bowel. IBD can lead to colon cancer, so it is important if you are having severe abdominal symptoms associated with blood in the stools, nighttime diarrhea, or weight loss, please discuss this with your primary care provider.
Dr. Sylvia Anderson