Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
Inflammatory Bowel Disease is a chronic condition that causes pain, heat, swelling, and redness within the digestive system. IBD appears in two different forms: Crohn’s disease and colitis. Colitis is mainly found in the colon or rectum, while Crohn’s can affect any part of the digestive path, from mouth to anus.
Colitis is defined as a continuous inflammation in the mucosal lining of the colon or rectum. Depending on where it's located, ulcerative colitis may be referred to by different names. In the descending colon, it is sometimes called left-sided disease. In the rectum it can be referred to as distal disease, ulcerative proctitis or proctosigmoiditis.
Causes of IBD
The causes of Inflammatory Bowel Disease are a bit of a medical mystery, but research points to a combination of genetic, dietary, and environmental factors. What is certain about IBD is that it affects the body’s normal immune response. The immune system of individuals with IBD cannot distinguish beneficial substances in the body from harmful bacteria, viruses and other invading cells. As a result, white blood cells mistakenly attack healthy areas of the GI tract, leading to inflammation or infection.
Symptoms of IBD
Depending on the severity of the patient’s case, Inflammatory Bowel Disease can lead to some or all of the following symptoms:
Long-term effects of IBD
Inflammatory Bowel Disease leads to a wide array of long-term implications. Anemia, osteoporosis, fatigue, malnutrition, and dehydration are common as inflamed areas along the GI tract struggle to absorb nutrients. Bowel obstruction is also common as IBD blocks the flow of food as it travels through the intestines. Patients with IBD may undergo antibiotic treatments, which can result in an imbalance of gut flora (beneficial bacteria that aid in digestion). In serious cases, the disease can lead to colon cancer and liver disease.
Remedies for Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Though IBD is a difficult condition to live with, steps can be taken to ease pain and symptoms. Proper food combining is paramount when living with IBD as greasy, acidic, and processed foods can lead to flare-ups. Unfortunately, many individuals with Crohn’s or colitis must undergo surgery to remove diseased segments of the bowel.