Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
What is Inflammatory Bowel Disease?
Inflammatory bowel diseases are a group of chronic conditions that include Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Ulcerative colitis involves the large intestine (“colon”) whereas Crohn’s disease can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract from mouth to anus. Although Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are distinctly different conditions, up to 15% of patients can have features of both diseases. Without treatment these diseases can cause ongoing inflammation and damage to the bowel.
IBD affects over 60,000 Australians, with ulcerative colitis more common than Crohn’s disease. Both men and women are equally affected. Despite ongoing research, it remains unknown as to why patients develop IBD. There are likely to be genetic, infectious and environmental factors that lead to dysregulation of the intestinal immunity and subsequent inflammation and injury to the gastrointestinal system.
IBD affects over 60,000 Australians, with ulcerative colitis more common than Crohn’s disease.
Common symptoms include diarrhoea (frequent loose bowel motions), blood or mucous in the stool, and abdominal pain or discomfort. Other symptoms can include unintentional weight loss, mouth ulcers, joint pains and rash. Diagnosis of these conditions will generally require a colonoscopy, and in some instances endoscopy and either CT or MRI scan.
IBD is a treatable condition with the use of medications. The goal of therapy is to settle down symptoms, but equally important is complete resolution of inflammation based upon tests. Control of inflammation significantly reduces the risk of developing complications of IBD that can include the need for steroids, hospitalization, need for surgery and even bowel cancer.