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What is Inflammatory Bowel Disease?

Inflammatory bowel disease is a sort of an umbrella termused for different types of medical conditions which are characterized bychronic or recurring inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract due to immune responses.Out of all different sorts of inflammatory bowel diseases, the most common onesinclude Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Although they are completelydifferent, they both trigger a rather abnormal response by the immune system inwhich the foods and the healthy bacteria get mistaken for harmful substancesand then get attacked by white blood cells. All of that leads to inflammation of the lining of the intestines and all the other common symptomsof the inflammatory bowel disease. It is also important to note that theaforementioned medical conditions often get confused with another medicalcondition called irritable bowel syndrome.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Ulcerative colitis is a certain type of gastrointestinaldisorder which only affects the colon. It does not affect any other part ofthe gastrointestinal tract. The condition is initially characterized by loosening of thestool which often can be bloody as well. Such loose stool may also sometimes beaccompanied by several other common symptoms such as severe urgency to have abowel movement and cramping abdominal pain. Bouts of diarrhea may be sudden ordevelop gradually. Due to all these symptoms, the patient usually tendsto suffer from loss of appetite and weight loss. Fatigue is often experiencedin most cases of ulcerative colitis. People who suffer from severely bloodystools may additionally experience the onset of anemia. Other less common symptomsof ulcerative colitis may include different types of liver disorders, eyeinflammation, painful sensation in joints and skin lesions. Most cases ofulcerative colitis are mild in nature, but there are also severe forms of the disease whichmay involve fever, nausea and intense abdominal cramping. Symptoms of thismedical condition tend to come and go on their own. Ulcerative colitis may lead to several complications such as failure to respond to medical treatments,abdominal bloating, colon cancer, rupture of the bowel and deep ulcerations.

Crohn’s disease is much more different than ulcerativecolitis mainly due to the fact that it may affect any portion of thegastrointestinal tract. The parts which are usually affected most frequentlyinclude the beginning of the large bowel and the end of the small bowel. Themost common symptoms of Crohn’s disease include fever, cramping abdominal pain,persistent diarrhea and sometimes even rectal bleeding. There are a largenumber of cases of Crohn’s disease which involve loss of appetite and subsequent weight loss. A peculiar thing about Crohn’s disease is that it mayadditionally affect certain other body parts such as the liver, skin, eyes and thejoints. It is not uncommon for people who suffer from Crohn’s disease toexperience fatigue. As far as complications are concerned, Crohn’s disease may beassociated with the occurrence of blockage of the intestines and development ofulcers in the intestines. The blockage is characterized by bloating, vomitingand cramping pain, while the intestinal ulcers may easily transform into fistulas.Crohn’s disease involves a higher risk of colon cancer as well. Diagnosisof both medical conditions usually involves certain methods such as colonoscopyand biopsy of pathological lesions.


Ulcerative colitis is commonly treated by utilizing fourdifferent classes of medications which include antibiotics, immunemodifiers, steroids and aminosalicylates. In spite of that, most cases cannotbe treated successfully without any complications. This is why there are alarge number of cases of ulcerative colitis which require surgicalinterventions. Surgery for ulcerative colitis is medically referred to as colectomy and itinvolves the removal of the colon after which the patient is cured.

Thetreatment for Crohn’s disease involves even more different types of medications as there are five of them, including biologic therapy, antibiotics, immunemodifiers, steroids and aminosalicylates. As it is the case with ulcerativecolitis, Crohn’s disease often requires a surgery in which the affected parts of the colon are removed so that the patient can be cured.


Inflammatory bowel disease usually affects those who arebetween 15 and 30 years of age, but it can actually occur at any age. Crohn’s diseaseaffects women much more than men, while with ulcerative colitis the situationis completely different because it affects men more than women. Smokers getaffected by inflammatory bowel disease more than those who do not smoke.Inflammatory bowel disease is frequently reported in the developed countries while the number of cases associated with the same disease is not so high in countrieswhich are not developed yet.


The biggest problem of those who suffer from inflammatorybowel disease is that the quality of their lives is largely affected by thesymptoms of the condition which usually tend to be rather sociallyunacceptable. The disease is not that dangerous on its own, but it can lead tofurther medical complications which sometimes may even be fatal.

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