Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) (cont.)
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What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)?
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Inflammatory bowel disease is a chronic disease (lasting a long time), and a person has periods of time in which the disease flares up and causes symptoms. These periods are followed by remission, in which symptoms disappear or decrease and good health returns.
Symptoms may range from mild to severe and generally depend upon the part of the intestinal tract involved. Signs and symptoms of IBD include:
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 cause).
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.
Genetic, infectious, immunologic, and psychological factors have all been associated with influencing the development of IBD.
There is a genetic predisposition (or perhaps susceptibility) to the development of IBD, but the triggering factor for the 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 the normal immune responses.
What Are the Intestinal Complications of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)?
Intestinal complications of inflammatory bowel disease include the following:
When to Seek Medical Care for Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
If a person has the previously mentioned symptoms and signs, a visit to a doctor is warranted. Although those symptoms can suggest that the person may have inflammatory bowel disease, tests must first be performed to see if they do have IBD. The same symptoms are seen in several other disorders as well, and so the symptoms alone do not necessarily mean a person has IBD. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a different disorder that may have symptoms similar to those of IBD.
Is There a Test to Diagnose Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)?
A health care professional makes the diagnosis of inflammatory bowel disease based on the patient's symptoms and various diagnostic procedures and tests.
Complete Blood Count
Both the above tests are not diagnostic of IBD, as they may be abnormal in many other diseases.
A colonoscopy is an examination similar to a sigmoidoscopy, but with this procedure, the entire colon can be examined.
If you have upper GI symptoms (nausea, vomiting), an endoscope (narrow, flexible tube with a light source) is used to examine the esophagus, stomach, and the duodenum. The endoscope is inserted through the mouth, and the stomach and duodenum are examined for ulceration. Ulceration occurs in the stomach and duodenum in 5% to 10% of persons with Crohn's disease.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/11/2017
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Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) - Treatments
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