Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a term used to describe a series of conditions that create chronic inflammation in part or all of the digestive tract. Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are the most common conditions known under this umbrella term.
The causes of IBD are unknown. While it was once believed that stress and diet were the causes, it is now shown that these factors aggravate but do not cause IBD.
Ulcerative colitis is a condition that causes chronic inflammation, forcing the colon to empty frequently and resulting in diarrhea. Cells from the lining of the colon slough off in the process, creating tiny open sores known as ulcers. The ulcers cause pus, mucus and bleeding. Ulcerative colitis occurs most frequently in patients between 15 and 40 years of age (though children and patients over 50 may develop it as well).
There are four types of ulcerative colitis, each of which is categorized by their location and the severity of symptoms:
Crohn’s disease is an autoimmune disease in which inflammation occurs in sections of the large and small intestines that spreads into affected tissues. The inflammation is the result of the body’s immune system recognizing the cells in the digestive tract as a foreign body and attacking them.
While the causes are unknown, it is believed that those with a family history of the condition have an increased risk of developing it.
Crohn’s disease shares many symptoms with ulcerative colitis and the severity of symptoms hinge upon the severity of inflammation. Shared symptoms include:
In addition, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis cause similar symptoms found in other conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome.
Though there is no cure for IBD, symptoms can be managed by controlling the inflammation. It may be recommended to begin with milder drugs and move to stronger ones or start stronger and move to milder, depending on individual needs.
Medicinal treatments for the disease include:
Medications to manage symptoms include:
In addition, lifestyle changes may be recommended to help control symptoms. These include:
Surgery may also be recommended if all other conservative methods of treatment have failed. Surgical procedures differ depending upon the type of IBD:
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Whether you are experiencing symptoms of Ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, our physicians will work to reach an accurate diagnosis and craft a personalized treatment plan for you. We will ensure that all of your questions about your condition and treatment options are answered, whether you visit us in person or via a virtual telemedicine visit. To learn more about our gastroenterology services in NJ or to request an appointment, please contact us today.
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