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Inflammatory bowel disease

Inflamation within the digestive tract

Inflammatory bowel disease includes both ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s Disease. Both conditions cause periodic inflamation of the bowel and symptoms that come and go.

Ulcerative colitis 

Ulcerative colitis is an inflammation of the lining of the colon or large intestine and rectum that prevents water from being absorbed from the intestines into the bloodstream, causing diarrhea.

Symptoms

Commonly causes diarrhea, abdominal cramps and pain, often in the lower right side, and rectal bleeding. Other symptoms may include fatigue, weight loss and loss of appetite, joint pain and anemia.

Diagnosis

May include blood tests and a stool sample test, or a colonscopy, a small flexible tube inserted into the anus and passed along the colon, allowing the doctor to examine the lining of the colon and take tissue samples of suspicious areas.

Treatment

A healthy diet that avoids foods that trigger symptoms; and a variety of medications that control inflammation are used to treat ulcerative colitis.

Crohn’s Disease

Crohn’s Disease affects the deep layers of the intestinal wall with inflammation and ulcers.

Symptoms

Commonly causes abdominal pain, often in the lower right side; diarrhea; weight loss; rectal bleeding and fever. Chronic bleeding may cause anemia and children with this condition may have delayed or stunted development. Complications may include intestinal blockage and fistulas or ulcers that break through the intestinal wall making tunnels into surrounding tissues.

Diagnosis

May include blood tests and stool sample tests; colonoscopy; X-ray or capsule endoscopy, in which a patient swallows a tiny wireless camera inside a pill-sized capsule, so photos can be taken of the digestive tract as the capsule travels through it.

Treatment

A healthy diet that avoids foods that trigger symptoms; and medications that help control inflammation and relieve symptoms can help manage this condition, but there is no cure for Crohn’s Disease.