About Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a chronic inflammatory condition that involves the lining of the gastrointestinal tract. IBD can be divided into two diseases: Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative colitis.

Crohn’s disease

Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory condition that can involve the entire gastrointestinal tract from the mouth to the rectum. It mostly involves the small bowel and colon. The inflammation involves the entire thickness of the bowel wall. The inflammation can “skip” with areas that are normal in between inflamed bowel.

The types of Crohn’s disease are:

  • Ileal Crohn’s disease – inflammation involving the ileum
  • Ileocolonic Crohn’s disease – inflammation involving the ileum and colon
  • Colonic Crohn’s disease – inflammation involving the colon only
  • Upper gastrointestinal Crohn’s disease – inflammation involving the esophagus, stomach, and upper small bowel

Crohn’s disease causes problems in the intestines such as:

  • Inflammatory – inflammation of the wall of the bowel
  • Fibrostenotic – scarring that leads to narrowing of the bowel wall
  • Fistulizing – inflammation that has penetrated through the bowel wall and enters surrounding bowel or other organs (skin, bladder, vagina)

Ulcerative colitis

Ulcerative colitis is a chronic inflammatory condition involving only the colon and rectum. The inflammation only involves the top lining of the bowel wall, starting in the rectum and without “skipping” involves the rectum and colon.

Types of Ulcerative colitis include:

  • Proctitis – inflammation involving the rectum only
  • Proctosigmoiditis – inflammation involving the rectum and sigmoid colon
  • Left-sided colitis – inflammation involving the rectum, sigmoid colon, and descending colon
  • Pancolitis – inflammation involving the entire colon

What causes IBD?

The exact cause of Inflammatory Bowel Disease remains unknown. Research suggests that genetics, environmental factors, and the immune system all play a role in the development of Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Its symptoms will depend on the location and severity of inflammation.

Common symptoms include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Urgency – urgent need to have a bowel movement
  • Blood in the stool
  • Abdominal pain and cramping
  • Fatigue
  • Fevers
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss

Inflammatory Bowel Disease can affect other organs such as:

  • Eyes
  • Skin
  • Joints
  • Liver
  • Kidneys
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Bones