Gastrointestinal disorders and diseases are definitely the most commonly reported conditions in people living in the US. There is a whole variety of conditions affecting different parts of the gastrointestinal tract. There are, for instance, infections, functional disorders, peptic ulcers, cancers etc.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
There is also one group of digestive disorders that leads to chronic inflammation of the intestine. There are several condition of this type in the group and all of them are referred to as IBD or irritable bowel disease. People suffering from diarrhea, stomach cramps, and gastrointestinal symptoms and signs such as flatulence, changes in appetite etc. may be suffering from IBD.
Crohn's disease is a chronic, inflammatory disease affecting different parts of the gastrointestinal tract. Apart from inflammation, the lining of the intestine is additionally covered with ulcers. The lower part of the small intestine is the site of inflammation in the majority of patients.
Because of inflammation, swelling and sometimes bleeding, there is an evident change in proper absorption of nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Most patients report abdominal pain/cramps accompanied by diarrhea (with presence or absence of blood), fever and weight loss. Bleeding as well as inadequate absorption of food are both responsible for fatigue patients commonly have to deal with.
Even though some patients suffer only from mild disease and face only slight discomfort in the abdomen, others have to cope with more complex and severe symptoms which interfere in their performance at work or in school.
People suffering from Crohn's disease are at risk of some complications like intestinal blockage or perforation, intestinal infections and formation of abscesses in or near the affected areas.
Ulcerative colitis is another inflammatory disease which affects only the large intestine. The affected parts of the gastrointestinal tract are inflamed and covered with ulcerations. The inflammatory reaction initially develops in the rectum and may also occur in other parts of the large bowel.
Patients suffering from ulcerative colitis experience fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss and sometimes nausea. The disease goes through remission and flare-ups.
Who is at Risk for IBD?
Both of the mentioned conditions usually affect teenagers and people in their twenties. Still, even children can develop either Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis.
The underlying causes of IBD remain unknown. Many times the conditions are reported to run in families which leads to assumption that there may be genetic factors involved. Today there are certain studies which are trying to identify a gene or genes which make one more susceptible to IBD.