Inflammatory bowel disease is used as a term for a set of diseases that cause inflammations in the digestive tract, especially of the colon and small intestine. It includes crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Inflammatory bowel disease is an immune mediated type of disease, in which the body’s immune system reacts against it’s own tissues.
The disease usually follows a course of exacerbation and remission. During exacerbation, there is flare- up of the inflammation and the patient experiences pain. During remissions, the person is often symptom free. The cause of the disease is unknown. There is usually a genetic predisposition to these types of diseases.
There is often a triggering factor for the disease to express itself, such as an infection or an antigen. Or it could be a failure of the body to turn off the immune system. Crohns disease could affect any part of the digestive system from mouth to anus, but ulcerative colitis affects only colon and rectum.
Symptoms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease
As mentioned earlier, the disease follows a course of symptom free period and then there will be a flare up of all the symptoms. The symptoms too vary in intensity depending on the extent of inflammation. Some of the symptoms of the disease include, abdominal pain, diarrhea, bloody stools, fever, weight loss, anemia. The person also experiences an urgency when there is a desire for bowel movement. There is often a loss of appetite.
Treatment for Inflammatory Bowel Disease
During the flare up of disease, it is best advised to limit the intake of fiber into your diet. Milk often acts as a triggering agent. So dairy products too should be avoided. There is no evidence to show that liquid diet works better. Ulcerative colitis is not much influenced by diet, but crohns disease is much largely influenced.
During the flare up of inflammation, the aim is to bring the inflammation under control so that the person finds relief from his symptoms. After the inflammation is under control, measures are taken to maintain the disease under control. For reducing inflammation, the drugs used are aminosalicylates, antibiotics etc.
Antibiotics are mainly used for crohns disease. If there is no response to these drugs then corticosteroids are used. Corticosteroids often help in relieving the symptoms and reduces the inflammation too. In case they fail to produce adequate results, then immune modifying agents are used. Corticosteroids cannot be used over a long time, in that case too, immune modifying agents are used.
Surgical treatment is useful only for ulcerative colitis. Since crohns disease is more widespread, it cannot be treated surgically. Ulcerative colitis, in fact, responds better to surgical treatment than medical treatment.
Inflammatory bowel disease often affect the quality of life due to its symptoms like pain, diarrhea, anemia etc. The disease is not fatal, but the complications could lead to fatalities. There is also a likelihood for the disease to develop colorectal cancer, so a constant monitoring is necessary. Constant medications are necessary to prevent flare ups, often those with lowest side effects are given.
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