What is Inflammatory Bowel Disease?
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (referred to as IBD) is the name of a group of disorders that cause the intestines to become inflamed (red and swollen). The inflammation lasts a long time and usually comes back over and over again. Approximately 0.5% of the total population in Canada has IBD.
If you have IBD, you may have abdominal pain and cramps, diarrhea, weight loss, and bleeding from your intestines. The two kinds of IBD are Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. Crohn’s Disease often causes ulcers (open sores) along the length of the small and large intestines. Crohn’s Disease either spares the rectum, or causes inflammation or infection with drainage around the rectum and anus. Ulcerative Colitis usually causes inflammation and ulcers in the lower part of the large intestine (colon),
often starting in the rectum.
What Causes Inflammatory Bowel Disease?
The exact causes are unknown. The disease may be caused by a germ or by an immune system problem. You don’t have to worry about your family members catching the disease from you, because it is not contagious. However, IBD does seem to be hereditary (runs in your family).
How is Inflammatory Bowel Disease Diagnosed?
Based on your symptoms, your doctor may suspect that you have Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis. Your bowel movements may be tested for germs and the presence of blood. Your doctor will probably look inside your intestines with a Sigmoidoscope or a Colonoscope. In these procedures, the doctor uses a narrow flexible tube to look directly inside your intestines. Special x-rays may be helpful in diagnosing this illness (such as barium x-rays or CT scan).
How is Inflammatory Bowel Disease Treated?