Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) refers to two chronic diseases that cause inflammation of the intestine: ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory disease of the large intestine (colon). Crohn’s disease most commonly affects the last part of the small intestine (called terminal ileum) and parts of the large intestine (colon). Ulcerative colitis affects only the lining of the bowel, whereas Crohn’s disease generally tends to involve the entire bowel wall.
The most common symptoms of both ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are:
• Diarrhoea (watery or bloody diarrhoea)
• Abdominal pain
Less common symptoms include:
• Weight loss
Health problems that occur outside the digestive tract:
A careful medical history is essential. Colonoscopy is the gold standard of the diagnosis. The endoscope (colonoscope) is a long, thin tube inserted through the anus and attached to a TV monitor. Colonoscopy allows detection of inflammation, erosions, ulcers or bleeding on the wall of the colon. During the exam biopsy should also be performed, which involves taking a small sample of tissue from part of the colon so it can be viewed with a microscope.
Drug treatment is the main method for relieving the symptoms of both ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. The doctor may prescribe: anti-inflammatory drugs (used to decrease the inflammation cause by the disease) and immunosuppressive agents (in order to restrain the immune system from attacking the body’ own tissues and causing further inflammation).