What is Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory Bowel Disease – or IBD is a grouping of diseases that affect the bowel; Crohn’s and Disease Ulcerative Colitis. They are known as Inflammatory Bowel Disease as both these diseases cause significant inflammation to the large intestine or bowel.


Often there is confusion between an IBD and IBS – or Irritable Bowel Syndrome. An IBD is a diagnosable condition; it can be definitively diagnosed through biopsy of the colon. IBS however is a symptom or group of symptoms that result from an underlying condition – this may be an IBD or it could be caused by other various conditions.

The two main IBD are Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease. Both affect the bowel, however their effects vary. Ulcerative Colitis causes inflammation to only the inner lining of the bowel and rectum. Crohn’s Disease causes inflammation to the full thickness of the bowel wall and can also cause inflammation from the mouth, through to the anus.


​Symptoms

Common symptoms of an Inflammatory Bowel Disease can often be confused with other symptoms being triggered from other underlying conditions. This is where a Gastroenterologist’s knowledge and experience are so crucial in obtaining an accurate diagnosis; and accurate diagnosis is crucial as treatment needs to be targeted and specific.


Some of the symptoms people with an IBD experience are:


  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Diarrhoea
  • Lethargy (unexplained)
  • Weight Loss (unexplained)
  • Pain or swelling around the anus

Treatment

Treatment of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases are dependant on the type of IBD, the severity of it, how much of the bowel is affected and the location of the affected bowel. For this reason, accurate diagnosis is crucial in the treatment and management of an IBD. Many people with an IBD, who are well treated and managed live healthy and full lives, not limited by the IBD.


Treatments can range from dietary modification (please do not implement dietary modification without consulting your Gastroenterologist), oral medications, suppository medications, intravenous medications, through to surgery in more severe cases.


If you would like to read more about Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, please refer to the GESA Fact Sheet on our fact sheet page.


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