The term Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is a general name given to a few disorders that all fall under the category of inflamed intestines (they become red and swollen.) This is usually due to a reaction the body causes against its own intestinal tissue. The two most common types of Inflammatory Bowel Disease are Ulcerative Colitis (UC) and Crohn’s Disease (CD). Crohn’s disease can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract; however, it more commonly affects the small intestine or colon.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease is a chronic disease, which means that it lasts a long time and can occur frequently. There are some cases where a person will only suffer from one occurrence of Inflammatory Bowel Disease, and then be in remission from there on. Others will have many occurrences.
Sufferers of Inflammatory Bowel Disease will go through stages of flare ups and symptoms. Both Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease share the same stages of symptoms. When the diseases are considered active, this is when there is inflammation and irritation. When the diseases are considered to be in remission, the inflammation is lessened or non-existent with no symptoms.
The most common sign or symptom of both Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s disease is abdominal pain and diarrhea. “Diarrhea can range from mild to severe (as many as 20 or more trips to the bathroom a day). If the diarrhea is extreme, it can lead to dehydration, rapid heartbeat, and a drop in blood pressure. And continued loss of small amounts of blood in the stool can lead to anemia.” (Rosario, 2011) Constipation may also occur due to an obstruction in the intestine or inflammation.
Symptoms may depend on which section of the gastrointestinal tract is affected, and may also range in severity. “Symptoms may include diarrhea (bloody), sever urgency to have a bowel movement, fever, loss of appetite, weight loss, anemia, and abdominal cramps and pain.” (Rowe) People who suffer from ulcerative colitis also have a higher risk of colon cancer after 8-10 years of having the disease. People who suffer from Crohn’s disease may also suffer the same risks of colon cancer, but typically only if the entire colon is affected. There are also rare extra-intestinal cases of Inflammatory Bowel Disease that occur in organs other that the intestinal tract. These symptoms may include arthritis, liver and kidney disorders, bone loss, and more.
In cases of children suffering from Inflammatory Bowel Disease, it may also delay puberty. This is due to the body not absorbing all of the nutrients from their food. They may also suffer from fever, fatigue, and weight loss.
One symptom that is not definite, but may help decide what form of IBD is present, is where the pain in the abdomen is located. Typically Ulcerative Colitis patients experience pain in the lower left section of the abdomen, while Crohn’s Disease patients tend to suffer from pain in the lower right section of the abdomen. “With Ulcerative Colitis, bleeding...