A Broad Overview Of IBD
Since 2000, I’ve written an extensive amount about the digestive diseases collectively known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Conventional medicine divides IBD into two main forms: Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Both conditions are idiopathic (which means we have no idea what causes them), chronic, and incurable. Researchers are closing in on the genes that are responsible for IBD, and there are more than 100 identified. However, it’s generally accepted that there is also an environmental trigger, and most probably several of them, that somehow turn the IBD genes “on.” Some key opinion leaders feel that IBD is not actually two diseases, but rather a spectrum of diseases.
IBD is also an auto-immune condition, which means that it is not just a “bathroom” disease, but actually is the product of an overactive immune system. Auto-immune diseases tend to run in packs, and some people develop more than one (for example, arthritis tends to be common in people with IBD).
Signs and Symptoms Of IBD
Trademark symptoms of IBD include diarrhea (sometimes bloody), abdominal pain, fatigue, weight loss, and fevers. Signs of IBD include ulceration in the colon, in the case of ulcerative colitis, or anywhere in the digestive tract, in the case of Crohn’s disease. However, as each person’s disease state is different, and so a host of other signs, symptoms, and complications are possible.
Treatments For IBD
The first line of treatment for IBD is usually medication: 5-ASA drugs, biologic therapies, immunosuppressives, and steroids are some of drugs commonly used, either singly or in concert. When medical therapy fails, patients and gastroenterologists often turn to surgery, such as resection, colostomy, ileostomy, and j-pouch.
More Info About IBD Than You Can Shake A Stick At
For much more reading about IBD, here are links to some of my articles at IBD/Crohn’s Disease at About.com. My content there goes through a review process, which ensures that it is medically accurate. Here are some of the best pieces that explain different aspects of IBD in more detail:
- What Is Inflammatory Bowel Disease?
- Crohn’s Disease FAQ
- Ulcerative Colitis FAQ
- How IBD is Diagnosed
- Treatments for Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- The Differences Between Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease
- Ulcerative Colitis Complications
- Complications Of Crohn’s Disease
- Is IBD Associated With Depression?
Where To Find Out More
There is obviously much more to learn about the finer details of IBD, as well as how to deal with the unpleasant aspects of these diseases and their treatments. Searching Verywell Health via the search box on the site could yield the answers you are looking for, or you could drill down into all my articles divided up by category (on the left). If you can’t find it there, post a comment below and let me know about the topics you’d like to see.