Inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD, is a collection of autoimmune diseases where the digestive tract is attacked by the body. It consists broadly of two diseases, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, which can be extremely painful and debilitating. These conditions can also lead to complications such as scars in the digestive tract, or fistulas, in which the digestive tract tunnels outward of the body.
Take Charge of Your Digestive Health
The gastroenterologists at CHI Health are digestive health experts that specialize in the diagnosis, treatment and management of inflammatory bowel disease, helping patients find fast and lasting relief.
Learn more about the condition below, then call one of our clinic locations to make your appointment with a specialist near you.
Symptoms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease may range from mild to severe, with periods of active illness followed by periods of remission. Common signs of both Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis include:
- Diarrhea: Loose stools are one of one of the most common symptoms of IBD.
- Fever and fatigue: Many people with IBD experience a low-grade fever. You may also feel tired or have low energy.
- Abdominal pain and cramping: Inflammation and ulceration can affect the normal movement of contents through your digestive tract and may lead to pain and cramping. You may also experience nausea and vomiting.
- Blood in your stool: You might notice bright red blood in the toilet bowl or darker blood mixed with your stool. You can also have bleeding you don't see (occult blood).
- Reduced appetite: Abdominal pain and cramping, as well as inflammation, can affect your appetite.
- Unintended weight loss: You may lose weight and even become malnourished because you cannot properly digest and absorb food.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease Treatment Options
IBD is a lifelong disease, and at this point, people are rarely cured. However, thanks to advances in medication, gastroenterologists at CHI Health can help patients keep their condition in check and live an active, pain-free lifestyle.
The most common medications we prescribe include:
- Aminosalicylates: These treat mild to moderate Crohn's disease by controlling inflammation in the lining of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
- Antibiotics: These treat symptoms and help heal infections.
- Biologics: These drugs treat people with moderate to severe disease, often if other drugs have not worked well. They don't affect your whole immune system, so they tend to cause fewer side effects, although some side effects can be serious.
- Corticosteroids: These strong and fast-acting drugs can often relieve flares in moderate to severe Crohn's within a few days. You usually take them in small doses for a short time because they can cause serious side effects.
- Immunomodulators: If you have moderate to severe Crohn's, and you have not had luck with aminosalicylates or corticosteroids, your doctor may suggest one of these. They can help your body respond better to corticosteroids during a flare and help you stay flare-free longer.
Surgical Relief for IBD
If medication no longer eases your symptoms, or if your Crohn's or colitis causes other health problems, your gastroenterologist may advise surgery as a long-term solution.
Surgery may be used to remove part of your intestine, rectum or colon, or to treat other problems. Taking certain medications after surgery can lower the chance that it will return.