What To Do When Intestines Are Inflamed – Inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome are two different conditions. Both are chronic conditions, meaning that symptoms can arise over time. Both inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome can cause similar symptoms, including abdominal cramps and pain, diarrhea and constipation.
The names, abbreviations, and symptoms of these conditions may be similar, but there are important differences between the two. Seeing a specialist who can provide tests and diagnosis is important for people who may have one of these gastrointestinal problems.
What To Do When Intestines Are Inflamed
Irritable bowel syndrome does not cause visible damage to the digestive tract and can be treated with a combination of medications and lifestyle changes, which can provide long-term relief for some people.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (ibd)
Inflammatory bowel disease (including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s) causes inflammation in the intestines, which can lead to permanent damage to the gastrointestinal tract. Inflammatory bowel disease generally requires long-term management, and for some severe cases it may be necessary.
Symptoms of IBS include abdominal cramps, bleeding and change in bowel habits. Different types of IBS can cause people to have diarrhea, constipation or both.
IBS can be caused by a problem with the way the gut and brain work together. In some cases, severe infections of the digestive system can lead to IBS symptoms.
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases notes that IBS does not cause visible damage to the digestive system. Unlike inflammatory bowel disease, which causes inflammation that damages the intestines, IBS symptoms do not cause permanent physical damage to the body. Despite no visible damage, IBS can be uncomfortable and can affect a person’s quality of life.
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Treatment for IBS usually includes antibiotics, dietary changes, and other medications to relieve symptoms. Depending on the cause of IBS, counseling and mental health care may also be part of the treatment.
The term IBD includes both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. These are two different types of IBDs that can cause inflammation in different parts of the intestines. Crohn’s disease can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract, while ulcerative colitis only occurs in the colon and rectum.
The causes of IBD can include a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Researchers are investigating possible causes to better understand these conditions.
Symptoms of IBD include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, bloody stools, blocked bowels and weight loss. Symptoms can vary depending on the location of the inflammation in the intestines. Flare-ups of IBD can be unpredictable, but treatment can help control symptoms.
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Treatment for IBD depends on your symptoms and general health, as well as the extent of the disease. There are medical and surgical therapies for IBD. Anti-inflammatory drugs, steroids and other drugs can help some people with IBD. If medications do not control symptoms, or if certain complications of IBD make the condition worse, it may be an option.
The management of IBD requires a team of specialists. Washington University Colon & Rectal offers a team-based approach that focuses on collaboration between patients, gastroenterologists and colorectal surgeons. The exact treatment is tailored to each individual patient.
If recommended, Washington University Colon and Rectal specialists will listen to your goals, discuss your options, and help you find the treatment that works best for you.
Washington University colon and rectal surgeons and gastroenterologists are leading experts in the treatment of IBD and other colorectal conditions at St. For more information visit the University of Washington Colon & Rectal website. Inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD, is characterized by chronic inflammation in the digestive system. The two main types are ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
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Inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD, is when there is inflammation, or swelling, in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and a lifelong immune response. The disease makes the body and the immune system think that food, bacteria and other things needed in the intestines should not be there. With this, the body attacks the cells of the intestine, causing inflammations that do not go away easily. Almost 3 million Americans are affected by IBD, and the number of affected people continues to grow worldwide.
There are two main types of IBD: ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Both are diseases with periods of remission (when you feel well) and relapse (when you feel unwell). Symptoms can vary from person to person and depend on the type of IBD.
Although IBD is a long-term health problem that has periods of remission and relapse, most people have a normal life and a good quality of life. For those with chronic and persistent symptoms, here are a few tips to try:
Ulcerative colitis (UC), which is more common than Crohn’s disease, is an inflammatory disease involving the large intestine (rectum and colon). It can affect part or all of the large intestine. People with UC often have:
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Some people with UC may have weight loss or other systemic symptoms (symptoms that affect the whole body). The inflammation of UC can also affect the joints or the skin, leading to painful joints and a skin rash. During a flare-up, symptoms may extend beyond those affecting the digestive system, including:
Skin problems affect up to 15% of people with IBD. The disease can start slowly and progress for several weeks.
UC can be characterized as being in remission (a time when symptoms improve) or mildly, moderately or severely active. It can also be described as fulminant, which means that it is very active and does not respond to therapy.
More than 10 bloody bowel movements per day. It may also have other symptoms, including abdominal swelling or the need for blood transfusions.
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UC is diagnosed by the presence of common symptoms and endoscopic and biopsy findings (small tissue sample) of chronic inflammation in the large intestine. Read more about ulcerative colitis.
Crohn’s disease can affect any part of the digestive system, with the ileum (the last part of the small intestine) being the most common site for the disease.
Crohn’s disease is often characterized by abdominal (stomach) pain, diarrhea and weight loss, and sometimes by an abdominal mass, intestinal blockage or fistula. About 20-25% of people with Crohn’s disease may have a fistula. A fistula is an abnormal connection between the intestinal tract and another structure that usually occurs in the anal area, but the fistula can also occur when the intestine is normal. Perianal disease (fistulas, fissures or ulcers near the anus) has been reported to be more common in black, South Asian and Hispanic people.
The exact causes of Crohn’s disease are unknown, although several genetic and environmental factors may increase the risk of the disease. Read more about Crohn’s disease.
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Because IBD can be a progressive disease (meaning it can get worse over time), early diagnosis and treatment have the potential to slow disease progression. The time from the onset of symptoms, or when a person starts to feel unwell, to when the diagnosis is made is important.
The diagnosis of IBD usually requires evaluation by a gastroenterologist. Depending on your health coverage, you may need a referral from your primary care physician or authorization from your medical insurer for this evaluation.
The therapeutic window of opportunity – which means treatment earlier in the disease – is also important to ensure that the disease does not quickly deteriorate into serious problems. This is important because, often, a diagnosis can be delayed because other conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome, lactose intolerance or hemorrhoids, are considered wrong instead. Limitations in access to subspecialty care can also result in delays in diagnosis and treatment.
The other reason that the disease can progress is if the treatments are not used as directed or used incorrectly and deeper levels of control and remission are not reached. According to recent research, the average times from the onset of symptoms to the diagnosis of the disease were 8.3 and 4.5 months for Crohn’s disease and UC, respectively.
Large Intestine Diseases
The treatment of IBD is different for everyone and depends on the exact location of the disease, the type of symptoms and the severity of the disease. The general goals for managing IBD are:
Gastroenterologists focus both on their help in remission, that is the absence of symptoms, and on maintaining remission or preventing flare-ups.
From a medical point of view, the goal of IBD treatment is mucosal healing/deep remission, which means feeling well and showing no signs of inflammation. Mucosal healing, which is described as not showing disease activity or ulcers during colonoscopy or other imaging tests, is also becoming more important in the management of IBD.
When mucosal healing is achieved in both Crohn’s disease and UC, a is less likely to have flare-ups, hospitalization or surgery. If remission is achieved, the health care team can adjust treatments to maintain remission.
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Other long-term treatment goals include reducing the use of steroids for a long period of time and reducing the long-term risk of colorectal cancer (CRC). People who have UC or Crohn’s disease involving the colon have a higher risk of developing CRC compared to those who do not have these conditions, but this can be prevented with proper disease treatment and colonoscopies of routine. The risk of cancer is decreasing with better treatments and prevention
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