Inflammatory Bowel Disease refers to a group of diseases characterized by swollen or inflamed intestines or colon. This is due to an immune reaction of the body against its own tissues. Some symptoms of the disease include abdominal cramps, fever and bloody diarrhea. The main goal for treatment is to reduce inflammation caused by abnormal autoimmune reactions of the body.
Inflammatory Bowel disease affects around one million Americans yearly; it is one of a hundred or more autoimmune diseases. The two most common manifestations are Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Collitis.
Lesser forms include:
- Collagenous colitis
- Lymphocytic colitis
- Ischaemic colitis
- Diversion colitis
- Behcet’s syndrome
- Infective colitis
- Indeterminate colitis
Inflammatory Bowel Disease Causes:
The disease is idiopathic or the real cause is unknown. The inflammation is due to an auto-immune response of the body to its own tissues. It is believed that an abnormality in the immune system causes its inability to recognize normal cells and attack it. The disease progresses when bacteria and gastric contents pass through damaged tissues and enters the body’s bloodstream. The digestive system especially the small intestines are highly vascularized meaning it is very well connected to the bloodstream. Absorption of nutrients is usually done through the small intestine and received through the blood stream. Tissue damage can easily spread infections to the body through the bloodstream.
Cases of Inflammatory Disease are high in patients whose family has a history of the disease. It’s still not considered a major factor since the percentage of developing the disease is minimal. It is believed that genes may play a factor but this is in conjunction with other factors.
Persons of Northern European and Jewish descent have higher incidents of the disease. Cases of IBD in people of Jewish descent grow with Ashkenazi Jews (European descent).
Recent studies identified that certain genes present may enhance an individuals chances of getting the disease. In researches the first gene associated with Crohn’s disease was identified. The NOD2 gene is suspected as one of the factors responsible for the development of the disease.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease Symptoms:
Patients suffering from Chronic (persist for a long periods) IBD may experience periods of remissions and attacks. Symptoms range from mild to severe. Severity depends on the area affected by the disease. Inflammatory Bowel Diseases interferes with normal function of the intestines.
- Chronic diarrhea
- Abdominal cramps and pain
- Blood and mucus in the stool
- Abnormal weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and Vomiting
- Inflammation (results due to infections released to the bloodstream)
Inflammatory Bowel Disease Diagnostic Tests:
Signs and symptoms for Inflammatory Bowel Disease are similar to other medical conditions. Elimination of other possible diseases is done to increase the possibility of the person suffering from IBD.
Clinical studies of blood and stool testing determine if there is an infection and to identify the causative agent of infection
- CBC (Complete Blood Count)
- ESR (Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate)
- Serum Chemistry
- Stool Exam
- Blood Culture
Doctors perform a series of procedures to view your intestines for inflammation or bleeding.
Management and Treatment of Inflammatory Bowel Disease :
Management of patients suffering form IBD includes eating a healthy diet. Inadequate absorption of nutrients is common because the disease affects the small intestines. Eating a low residue diet and restricting or minimizing foods rich in fiber is also advised. Fats are also avoided to control instances of diarrhea.
Drugs are prescribed to control or suppress the body’s immune system. Because IBD is an autoimmune disease these drugs are used to reduce the body’s natural defense system from attacking normal tissue. Antibiotics are also used to treat infections brought about by IBD. Medications which reduce peristalsis or movements in the digestive tract are also used to control diarrhea.
Advanced stages of IBD may require surgery as drug interventions alone can not treat the disease.
Surgery does not cure Crohn’s Disease. Inflammation may transfer to another part of the intestines or may develop near the affected area. If a blockage or fistula (abnormal connection between organs) develops surgery is indicated.
Removing the entire colon area, rectum and anus eliminates the possibility of developing colon cancer. Surgery is indicated when drugs or medications have failed to arrest the progress of the disease. People suffering from chronic symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis are also candidates for surgery.
Inflammatory Bowel Diseases are idiopathic diseases. There are no known causes for IBD, diet or lifestyle changes may not affect the possibility of a person acquiring the disease. Diet and lifestyle changes are done to manage or treat symptoms of persons suffering from IBD.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease affects millions of Americans today. Visiting your doctor for a daily checkup helps in detecting diseases at their early stages. Preventing and detecting diseases at their early stages is the best way of treating an illness. Signs and symptoms of IBD like diarrhea, loss of appetite and weight loss are often neglected as everyday occurrences. Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis are only noted when a patient has been suffering from chronic symptoms of IBD. Education and yearly visits helps in early detection and gives you the best chance of coping with Inflammatory Bowel Diseases.
© 2009 Hemorrhoid Information Center
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Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Retrieved Aug 28, 2009 from UCSF Children’s Hospital: http://www.ucsfhealth.org
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