Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is swelling and irritation of the digestive tract that may flare intermittently and typically lasts for long periods of time. What causes IBD is unclear. Genetics may play a role, as you are more likely to develop IBD if you have a family history of it. Experts also suspect that in people with IBD, the immune system may attack normal, harmless gut bacteria, causing inflammation. Certain factors, such as stress, can make IBD worse.
IBD can cause potentially debilitating symptoms, including stomach pain, frequent diarrhea and fatigue. The goal of treatment is to reduce inflammation, typically with medication, which relieves symptoms and improves quality of life.
- Crohn’s disease -- This form of IBD typically affects a portion of the small intestine, but it can occur in any part of the digestive tract. Crohn’s disease usually causes clusters of ulcers with healthy tissue sandwiched in between. The duration of flare-ups and severity of symptoms varies widely from person to person.
- Ulcerative colitis -- Unlike Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis only affects two parts of the digestive tract: the large intestine and the rectum. Instead of leading patches of ulcers to form, ulcerative colitis causes unbroken areas of swelling and ulcers in affected tissue. As with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis affects different people in different ways. Flare-ups may occur between periods with few symptoms or none at all.
Comprehensive Care for IBD
At UK HealthCare, you can find leading-edge, holistic care from a diverse team of experts at our Multidisciplinary Inflammatory Bowel Disease Clinic. Our team has the expertise to accurately diagnose Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis — a crucial step toward helping patients find relief, given the similarities between the conditions — and gastroenterologists, surgeons and other providers work together to customize treatment plans for each patient. We want to make care as convenient as possible, which is why you’ll meet with a gastroenterologist and a surgeon during the same visit, if necessary.
IBD treatment typically includes anti-inflammatory medications and drugs to treat specific symptoms, such as diarrhea and pain. Rarely, surgery is necessary to remove severely damaged tissue.