Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) represents a group of disorders that causes the inflammation of the digestive tract, which includes the mouth, esophagus, stomach, and large and small intestines. It has often been thought of as an autoimmune illness, but research shows that chronic swelling may not be because of the immune system damaging itself.
Health professionals have discovered that IBD is a result of the immune system attacking harmless virus, which leads to bowel injury. Its two types are ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. The latter is limited to the colon, and the former can involve any part of the gastrointestinal tract. Here are other things you need to know about this illness:
The exact cause of IBD remains unknown. In the past, it has been associated with diet and stress, but now, doctors know that these factors only aggravate this disease.
The latest research shows that IBD may be caused by a malfunction in the immune system. When it fights off an invading bacterium, an abnormal response makes the body’s defenses attack the cells in the digestive tract, too. Scientists have also found out that both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis run in families.
Like other chronic illnesses, a person with IBD experiences periods where the disease flares up and causes several symptoms. Then, they are followed by phases where these signs decrease or disappear. They range from mild to severe, depending on what part of the digestive tract is affected. They include:
- Diarrhea, which happens when affected parts of the bowel can’t absorb water
- Bleeding ulcers, which cause blood to show up in the stool
- Iron deficiency due to blood loss
- Abdominal pain, bloating, and cramping because of bowel obstruction
- Reduced appetite due to food aversion
- Unintended weight loss due to diarrhea
To diagnose inflammatory bowel disease, a doctor will check a patient’s full medical history before having them undergo one or more diagnostic tests. Some exams they may request are:
- Stool analysis
- Blood test to check for anemia and infections
- X-ray if they think a case is severe
- CT or MRI scan to detect fistulas in the small intestine or anal region
A gastroenterologist may also request endoscopic routines. During one of these tests, they’ll insert a flexible probe with a camera attached through the anus. This assessment reveals intestinal issues and allows the doctor to get a small sample of tissue for closer examination. Their expertise is crucial to this process, so some of them take IBD CE courses to provide more advanced procedures, like colonoscopy, flexible sigmoidoscopy, and upper endoscopy.