Inflammatory Bowel Disease, IBD, is a chronic condition of the digestive tract. While the names may sound similar, IBD and IBS are profoundly different and should not be confused.
There are two main types of IBD, Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis. Crohn's disease is found in any part of the digestive tract, from the mouth to the anus. Ulcerative colitis only affects the colon. Many Typically, IBD patients are diagnosed in childhood, which causes many parents to wonder if there was something that they could have done to prevent the disease. But the truth, the answer is no. While doctors are unsure of the exact cause of IBD, we do know that both types show some characteristics of an autoimmune disorder.
Symptoms of IBD vary, but include abdominal pain, bloody stools, fever, diarrhea, and weight loss. Children with IBD may experience delayed puberty. Symptoms outside of the digestive tract, such as odd rashes and arthritis, are also possible.
If your doctor suspects you may have IBD, a variety of tests may be ordered. Blood work and stool tests are normally followed by an endoscopy and/or colonoscopy in order to confirm the diagnosis. Sometimes x-rays or CT scans are also needed.
Depending on the diagnosis, your gastroenterologist will discuss a treatment plan with you. There are a variety of medications and biologic therapies available. It is important to know that IBD is a chronic illness, and it is crucial that medications and other treatments are followed closely. Follow-up appointments are important for your doctor to track the illness and to watch for flare-ups or changes.