Inflammatory Bowel Disease

What is Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)?

IBD involves chronic inflammation of all or part of the digestive tract. This includes Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s disease, which are both autoimmune diseases. This means that there is an abnormal immune response in your body that is against substances and tissues normally present in the body, such as the colon.

Crohn’s is a chronic inflammatory disease of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Inflammation can occur in any portion of the GI tract from mouth to anus. Crohn’s affects the entire thickness of the bowel and it can skip areas where there is normal bowel and areas of active inflammation. Inflammation may cause fistulas to develop. A fistula is a tunneling that leads from one loop of the intestine to another loop, or that connects the intestine to the bladder, vagina or skin. The most common site is around the anal area. If this occurs you may notice mucus, pus or stool from the opening. You may also develop strictures from continued inflammation in the bowel. This is a narrowing of the intestinal wall. Other complications may be fissures (tears in the lining of the anus) and abscesses which are tender lumps filled with pus from an infection.

Ulcerative Colitis (UC) is an inflammatory bowel disease of the colon (large intestine). Ulcerative Colitis only affects the inner-most lining of the colon, not the entire wall like Crohn’s. Ulcerative Colitis is more confined/localized then Crohn’s; the ulcers/sores of the colon lining are in a uniform, continuous fashion. The disease may involve the entire colon (pancolitis), only the rectum (ulcerative proctitis) or, more commonly, a mixture of the two.

Symptoms of IBD:

  • Diarrhea sometimes with blood
  • Abdominal cramping and/or abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Urgency with stooling

Extra Intestinal Manifestations:

(symptoms outside the GI system)

  • Uveitis/Iritis which shows up with redness, painful and sometimes itchy eyes
  • Arthritis with swelling/painful joints
  • Erythema nodosum/Pyroderma gangrenosum – tender, painful ulcerations, bumps and/or rashes of the skin

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