Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a difficult condition deserving the utmost attention because of the potential severity of its symptoms, because it can be a chronic long-term condition and because it tends to affect younger people. In IBD, the intestines become irritated and inflamed for reasons that are poorly understood. The disease can bring pain and bleeding, as well as diarrhea, and thus can compromise an individual’s life.
In some people, areas of the large or small intestine can become immunologically overactive, causing a type of autoimmune damage to the interior surface of these bowels. Symptoms may be mild to severe and the problem can affect the nutritional status, hydration status, red blood cell count and lifestyle of the individual. Cramping, fever, fatigue and weight loss may accompany the inflammatory process.
Swelling and scarring can also narrow the passage within the digestive tract. Obstructions, fistulas and other complications can occur, as can health problems involving other parts of the body.
Fortunately, the condition can mostly or partially resolve as the young adult suffering from IBD enters the third or fourth decade of live. For other patients, though, the disease is life long and typically alternates between periods of active symptoms and remission.
|Lourdes GI specialists take an aggressive, proactive approach to IBD to try to minimize the amount the disease interferes with a patient’s life.Two Primary Types of IBDGI doctors generally categorize a case of IBD as fitting one of two forms of the disease:Ulcerative colitis. In this condition, the lining of colon or large intestine becomes so red and swollen that it develops open wounds (ulcers) which be very painful. It can directly affect the rectal area and can cause mucus and blood in the stool.Crohn’s disease. Crohn’s primarily affects the last part of the small intestine but can spread to other areas. The inflammation generally involves the full thickness of the bowel wall.
Research indicates that in these conditions, when an agent like bacteria or food protein contacts the intestine some combination of genetics and abnormal developmental immunities causessensitization and overreaction in local tissue. The immune system then inadvertently attacks normal intestinal cells as well.
Hope From Ever-Improving Drugs
Lourdes experienced clinicians can identify this sometimes difficult-to-diagnose condition based on history, symptoms, physical examination and testing. Colonoscopy can help these specialists visually identify the condition and permit them to take a sample (biopsy) of the affected area to gain more information about the exact status of bowel tissue. X-ray, CT imaging or capsule endoscopy procedures may also be helpful.
Significant clinical research into the disease has yielded important strides in medical treatment for IBD. Newer drugs aimed at altering the immunologic sequence of events in IBD are helping many patients overcome the worst aspects of the condition and conduct more normalized lives. Many patients may take advantage of both anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive drugs. Highly specific adjustments to diet may also be important to finding a nutritional regimen that works best to lessen symptoms for the individual with IBD.
Finding a Way through the Most Challenging Periods
Lourdes gastroenterologists know how to step patients through a trial of drugs starting with the most benign and, if necessary, progressing to more powerful drugs. The medical field has found no set cures for IBD, and so treatment often involves sequential trials of different medications.
In severe cases of IBD that do not respond adequately to medical approaches, surgery can sometimes help. Lourdes gastroenterologists collaborate with Lourdes general surgeons who can remove segments of the intestine severely afflicted by IBD. While this treatment does not cure the disease, it does help patients past the most difficult periods, as a way to avoid more severe complications and to co-exist with the disease, and to hopefully gain at least a partial remission thereafter.
With first-rate medical care such as that provided by Lourdes’ GI service, many people with IBD are able to function well. Helped through the most difficult periods, many young patients can partly or wholly leave the disease behind as they pass the highest-incidence ages.