In Health

What is IBD and its Symptoms


With so many acronyms in the medical world, it’s hard to remember exactly what a doctor means when he or she starts laying out acronym after acronym, and IBD can be one that you haven’t heard of just yet. So, first of all, what is IBD?

  1. IBD stands for inflammatory bowel disease. The name explains itself fairly well, as it is simply inflammation of or in the lining of the small intestine and colon.
  2. Crohn’s disease is a type of IBD. You may have heard of Crohn’s from commercials or articles online, but probably didn’t know that it was actually a type of IBD.
  3. Another popular type of IBD is ulcerative colitis. Like IBD and Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis can affect more than just the small intestine and colon. There are well over four different types of ulcerative colitis, and most are specific to a particular region of the digestive tract.

What is the Cause of IBD?

The exact cause of IBD remains to be discovered. However, there are three definite possibilities on the table as of right now. Diet, stress level, and immune system malfunction are all currently being researched as possible chief causes of the disease.

  1. Intense levels of stress can cause ulcers in the stomach lining, as well as irregularities in digestion speeds and success. These ulcers and abnormalities are the first steps to developing IBD.
  2. Diet is another suspect, mainly because of the huge influence it has on everything humans do. An unhealthy diet has the power to turn your health around very quickly. Eating unhealthy and fatty foods may be the culprit behind this disease.

However, while the exact cause of the disease remains up in the air, the symptoms are well known.

What are the Symptoms of IBD?

IBD symptoms are sometimes hard to see. Before the disease gets to the later stages and you begin to feel pain, it’s difficult to know you have it without going to a doctor. As the disease spreads, the infected will experience diarrhea. This is one of the earliest and most common signs that a person will receive. A steady fever and fatigue are other symptoms of IBD. However, with just these three symptoms, it may be hard to say definitively that it is IBD.

To be able to confidently mark it as IBD, look for these symptoms:

  1. Abdominal cramps – Cramping in the lower abdomen can be a good clue that this is the issue at hand. The infection typically begins in this location in the lower intestine, making it a clear cause for discomfort.
  2. Bloody stools – The blood in the stool is most likely from the bleeding of the infected stomach lining. This could also be hemorrhoids, or a number of other medical phenomenon, so be sure to check for additional symptoms before settling on IBD.
  3. Reduced appetite – The abdominal pain and cramping can definitely affect your hunger levels.
  4. Weight loss – Depending on the severity of the cramping and your loss of appetite weight loss may incur. This could also be because of the malfunction in your intestines, which can affect your body’s ability to absorb the foods nutrients properly.

If singled out, the large majority of these symptoms could be attributed to anything from eating too much to menstrual cramps. The time to seek medical opinions would be when you notice two or more occurring at once.

If you notice that you or a loved one is suffering from a number of these symptoms, call your doctor immediately. The sooner that an IBD treatment is facilitated, the sooner the pain and discomfort can stop for them.

It May be Crohn’s Disease

Crohn’s disease is quite similar to IBD, aside from a few small differences. Based on the patient, this type of IBD may cause inflammation in different parts of the digestive tract. In some instances, it caused inflammation as far up the tract as the esophagus and mouth. Crohn’s disease is a more common variety of the disease and can offer much more insight into how to go on living normally and as painlessly as possible while recovering.

It May be Ulcerative Colitis (UC)

UC may come in a few different specialized classifications, each with similar symptoms.

  1. Ulcerative proctitis- it is said to be one of the more mild forms of UC, and involves inflammation confined to the rectum.
  2. Proctosigmoiditis- again, involves inflammation in the rectum, as well as bouts of constipation.
  3. Left-sided colitis- this type of UC will cause intense pain on the left side of the patient, as well as the usual symptoms.
  4. Pancolitis- affects the entire colon, and will result in severe weight loss.
  5. Acute severe ulcerative colitis- similar symptoms all around, however, acute severe ulcerative colitis may cause an inability to eat.

A Special IBD Diet is Essential

Keeping a good diet while suffering from IBD is not difficult. An IBD diet mainly focuses on staying away from large portions, caffeine, alcohol, and fatty foods. Staying away from just these four things can save a lot of pain, even after the onset of IBD. A changed diet has the power to seriously reduce the amount discomfort, and even make some of the symptoms of IBD retreat naturally. Here are some foods you may want to eat more of:

  1. Fruits! Incorporate fruit in as many meals as you can. Soft fruits that have been peeled and mashed are best for digestion.
  2. Vegetables are a welcome addition to any diet, as well as this one. Try to make sure that the vegetables you eat are fully cooked and peeled.
  3. Soft foods are key.
  4. Limit proteins as much as you can. Lean proteins from fish and soy are okay, but only once or twice a day.
  5. Eat smaller portions more frequently throughout the day.

While it can be one of the chief reasons for developing the disease in the first place, diet can also have a tremendous impact on your recovery. The speed and quality of the patients’ revival will be owed in large to the kinds and quantities of the food they eat.

Looking at IBD vs. IBS

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are two very different afflictions. While they may have some similar symptoms, the afflictions themselves are very different in pain levels and severity. Here are some things to consider when looking at the differences between IBS vs. IBD.

  1. IBS, or Irritable Bowel Syndrome, is actually a disorder. This means that there is merely a kind of disturbance in the bowel function. That is not to say that it isn’t uncomfortable- pain from this disorder can be anything from mild to incapacitating.
  2. IBS does not involve any inflammation of the intestines or colon, unlike IBD. It will not cause bleeding or permanent harm to the gastrointestinal system.
  3. The symptoms of IBS are, for the most part, similar to those of IBD. However, weight loss, fever, and blood in the stools are not symptoms of IBS, but something potentially more serious. It could be IBD, but a visit to your doctor would be the best route to take.

What are the Treatments?

At the moment, there are several treatments that can greatly help with subsiding the pain caused by IBD. A colonoscopy is generally a go to procedure when anything is awry in the lower intestines, because this procedure can give a clear view of the entire colon. Also, an abdominal x-ray may be the next step in order to get a picture of the entire intestine.

A CT scan, MRI, or upper gastrointestinal endoscopy may be the next steps if those methods are unsuccessful or not conclusive. Each of these other tests may be able to provide a clearer picture of the interior of the body, and would be able to detect any swelling or abnormalities. An expensive test like this would be able to determine which part of the intestine is affected most and locate which region is causing the most discomfort.

There are a few other treatments to look for abnormalities in the blood and urine, as well as a stool analysis or a simple biopsy in the colon. These, along with tests to find antibodies sent by the body to confirm a disease are tests on a smaller scale, and can normally be done with less stress and discomfort to the patient.

If you or your loved one is exhibiting any of these symptoms or you believe that they are sick with IBD, contact your physician immediately. Additionally, if you have any further questions about IBD, as your doctor. While the cure for IBD is still in the making, there are many ways in which the pain can be reduced. Treatments are being developed every day that will make the daily lives of those suffering much easier.

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