You may be familiar with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), which causes discomfort after consuming a large meal or acidic foods. This condition ebbs and flows, allowing you to stay in control of your diet and your symptoms. On the other hand, IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) is a very serious condition that encompasses chronic illness. IBD can leave its victims feeling like there is a loss of control. At Carolina Health Digestive Associates, we want to help you understand the symptoms related to IBD and the options you have if you’re diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
IBD is a term used to identify two specific chronic illnesses known for causing inflammation in the digestive tract. IBD includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. While these disorders are unique in the part of the digestive tract they affect, they both have similar symptoms. Diarrhea, bloody stool, abdominal pain, fatigue, fever, and unintended weight loss are shared symptoms between both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. While IBD is not fatal, it is important to talk to a doctor about treatment plans to lessen your pain and discomfort and prevent life-threatening complications from forming.
Crohn’s most commonly occurs at the ileum, the base of small intestine where the small and large intestine connect. However, Crohn’s is not limited to this location and can be established anywhere along the digestive tract from the mouth to the anus. The cause of Crohn’s disease has nothing to do with food consumption, but everything to do with genetics. This is one reason the disease is so frustrating—there’s not much you can do to prevent it. The symptoms of Crohn’s include those listed above, but it may show up in varying degrees depending on the severity of your diagnosis. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of IBD, you are not alone! There are 700,000 people in the United States have been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. While there still is not cure, treatment is available. Talk to your doctor to determine what medication is right for you so that you can manage your pain and discomfort.
Ulcerative colitis (UC) occurs when the lining of the large intestine, the colon and rectum, becomes inflamed and ulcers form on the surface. The cause of UC is not definitive but many doctors believe an immune system malfunction is at play. When the immune system is attempting to fight off a virus, an abnormality kicks in and begins attacking the cells in the digestive tract. There are also studies that prove ulcerative colitis is hereditary, though many UC patients have no blood relative also suffering. Symptoms of UC are not immediate, but slowly develop over time and have no correlation to food consumption. As with Crohn’s disease, there is no cure for ulcerative colitis, but medication can help ease symptoms and help you live a more comfortable life.
If left untreated, ulcerative colitis can lead to life-threatening complications and diseases, such as colon cancer. The constant inflammation of the colon may even cause profuse bleeding or the rupture of the colon. Crohn’s disease can lead to vitamin deficiencies that cause osteoporosis, kidney stones, or obstructions in the large intestine. Most treatment includes medication to help ease symptoms and only rarely is surgery needed. However, the sooner you talk to a gastroenterologist about your symptoms, the sooner medication can be prescribed and work to keep your IBD from becoming more severe.
What You Can Do
If you experience any symptoms related to IBD or have a family history of Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, contact us at Carolina Digestive Health Associates today. We have a great team at eight convenient locations dedicated to helping you feel better. Don’t hesitate to make an appointment. Treatment is available now!