Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
Facts and definition of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- The term
inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) covers a group of disorders in which the
intestines become inflamed (red and swollen), probably as a result of an immune reaction of the body against its own intestinal tissue.
- Two major types of IBD are
ulcerative colitis (UC) and
Crohn's disease (CD).
- Ulcerative colitis is limited to the
colon (large intestine).
Crohn's disease can
involve any part of the
gastrointestinal tract from the mouth to the anus, it most commonly affects the
small intestine and/or the colon.
ulcerative colitis and
Crohn's disease usually run a waxing and waning course in the
intensity and severity of illness. When there is severe inflammation, the disease is considered to be in an active stage, and the person experiences a flare-up of the condition. When
the degree of inflammation is less (or absent), the person usually is without symptoms, and the disease is considered to be in remission.
What causes inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)?
Researchers do not yet know what causes inflammatory bowel disease. Therefore, IBD is called an idiopathic disease (disease with an unknown
An unknown factor/agent (or a combination of factors) triggers the body’s immune system to produce an inflammatory reaction in
the intestinal tract that continues without control. As a result of the inflammatory reaction, the intestinal wall is damaged leading to
bloody diarrhea and abdominal pain.
infectious, immunologic, and psychological factors have all been implicated in influencing the development of IBD.
There is a genetic predisposition (or perhaps susceptibility) to the
development of IBD. However, the triggering factor for activation of the body’s immune system has yet to be identified. Factors that can turn on the body’s immune system include an
infectious agent (as yet unidentified), an immune response to an antigen (for
example, protein from cow milk), or an
autoimmune process. As the intestines are always exposed to things that can cause immune reactions, more recent thinking is that there is a failure
of the body to turn off normal immune responses.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/18/2016
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