Inflammatory Bowel Disease: Causes and Treatments

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The symptoms of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are quite similar, making them difficult to differentiate. Symptoms normally develop over time but might present unexpectedly.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Crohn’s disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC) are the two primary types of IBD. The origins of IBD are unknown, however, research has identified genes, the immune system, and the environment as contributing factors.

Crohn’s disease can affect any region of the digestive tract, however, it most commonly affects the small and large intestines. Inflammation and ulcers can arise in deep layers of the gut. In ulcerative colitis, the large intestine’s surface layer of tissue is compromised. In UC, the whole lining of the afflicted intestine is inflamed.

 

Symptoms

The symptoms of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are quite similar, making them difficult to differentiate. Symptoms normally develop over time but might present unexpectedly. There are periods of active illness (flares) and remission (signs and symptoms lessen), which can last months or years.

Among the most prevalent indications and symptoms are:

  • Cramps and discomfort in the abdomen
  • Diarrhea that does not go away
  • The rectum is suffocating and bleeding (blood in the stool)
  • Appetite loss and unexplained weight loss are symptoms of this condition.

The following are examples of less common indications and symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Anemia
  • Joint discomfort is a common occurrence.
  • Rashes on the skin

Failure to thrive and delayed development are common in children and adolescents.

 

Diagnosed 

There are many similarities between Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis in terms of symptoms. Neither of these conditions can be diagnosed with a single diagnostic test.

Your healthcare professional will inquire about your symptoms in order to arrive at a diagnosis. A CBC and a stool test to check for evidence of intestinal inflammation may be the first step in your evaluation.

One or more of the following diagnostic tests may also be performed:

  • Large and small intestines can be inspected during this procedure.
  • Checking the digestive tract for swelling and ulceration with EUS (endoscopic ultrasound).
  • Sophisticated flexible sigmoidoscopy to inspect the rectum and anus.
  • Check for symptoms of inflammation or abscess with an imaging scan like a CT scan.
  • As part of the upper endoscopy process, a patient’s digestive tract is examined from mouth too small intestine beginning.
  • Endoscopy by the use of a capsule containing a camera that you ingest. As the camera moves through the digestive system, it takes pictures.

 

Causes

IBD is a mysterious disease. An agent or combination of agents — bacteria, viruses, antigens — causes an inflammatory response in the digestive tract. Recent research suggests a mix of inherited, genetic, and/or environmental factors may cause IBD. Also, the body’s own tissue may trigger an autoimmune reaction. Whatever causes it, the uncontrolled response destroys the intestinal wall, causing diarrhea and discomfort.

Evidence to suggest a genetic basis for IBD is strong, including:

  • Family history:   As many as 20% of those who suffer from IBD have a family history of the condition.
  • Race and ethnicity:  White folks are more likely than other races to suffer from IBD. It is also more prevalent among Jews, particularly Ashkenazi Jews. The NOD2 gene was discovered in 2006. More than 200 IBD-related genomic areas have been discovered since.

Finding a genetic connection might help researchers better understand IBD and improve therapies. A genetic relationship might lead to an IBD test.

 

Therapies

There are a few OTC remedies for IBD.

Your doctor may advise:

  • Fiber supplements: Difficulty urinating is commonly addressed with a fiber supplement like Metamucil (psyllium powder) or Citrucel (methylcellulose). Fiber helps firm up stools by adding mass.
  • Anti-diarrheal drugs: Our doctor may prescribe OTC anti-diarrheal drugs like Imodium A-D. (loperamide).
  • Acetaminophen: Ache relievers such as Tylenol (acetaminophen) can assist with minor discomfort. Other pain medicines, including NSAIDs, may irritate the stomach and aggravate symptoms.
  • Iron: Chronic intestinal bleeding can lead to anemia. Your doctor may advise taking iron supplements, but be aware that constipation is a typical side effect. 3 Ask your practitioner about new brands to try. Natural liquid iron supplements, like Floradix Floravital, are non-binding and may be easier on the stomach.
  • Calcium and D: If you use steroids for IBD, you may require calcium and vitamin D supplements. Both corticosteroids and Crohn’s disease increase the risk of osteoporosis, however, these vitamins may assist.

Always be with your doctor before taking over

 

Lifestyle

Getting enough nutrition can be difficult when you have IBD since some meals might trigger symptoms to flare up. As a result, there is no conventional list of foods to avoid.

Low-Residue Diet

If you have intestinal stenosis or stricture, your doctor may advise you to transition to a low-residue diet. Eating this way reduces the risk of undigested food becoming caught in the gut and causing a blockage.

 

Point of view

There are now more alternatives than ever for treating Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. The new IBD therapies released recently are successful in decreasing symptoms, and more are being explored.

Seeing a gastroenterologist regularly and taking your medicine on the schedule is critical to properly treating IBD. With today’s drugs, many patients can reduce inflammation, avoid problems, and enhance their quality of life.