Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is swelling and irritation of the intestines. Two forms of IBD are:
IBD is a lifelong illness.
The exact cause of IBD is not known. Some believe IBD may be the result of:
- Inherited genetics—may be a family history of IBD
- Reaction to a virus or bacteria that damages the colon and rectum
- Compromised immune system or infection that affects the immune system
The following factors increase your chance of developing IBD:
- Having a family member with IBD
- Having problems with the immune system
Symptoms may be constant or occur during flare-ups. Symptoms depend on the type of IBD, but common symptoms may include:
- Abdominal pain and cramping
- Weight loss and loss of appetite
- Bleeding from the intestines
- Ulcers in the intestines
- Inflammation of the rectum
- Draining around the rectum
- Bloating or feeling of fullness
- Bloody diarrhea
- Abdominal sounds such as gurgling
- Nausea and vomiting
- Joint pain
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Images of your bodily structures may be needed. This can be done with:
Your bodily fluids and waste products may be tested. This can be done with:
- Blood tests
- Stool culture
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There is no cure for IBD but treatments can help control symptoms. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include:
IBD symptoms may be reduced with simple dietary changes. Dietary changes may include switching to a diet that is:
- Low in fat
- Rich in fruits and vegetables
- Low in fiber and dairy products, if advised by your dietitian
Overall wellness may also play a role in reducing IBD flare-ups. Find ways to reduce stress. Get plenty of rest.
Most medications for IBD focus on reducing the swelling and irritation. Medications include:
- Anti-inflammatory drugs
- Immune system suppressors
- Antibiotics to kill germs in the intestinal tract
- Anti-diarrhea medication
- Pain relievers
Surgery is not helpful for all types of IBD. For people with severe ulcerative colitis, a surgery to remove the colon may be done.
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians https://www.familydoctor.org
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases https://www.niddk.nih.gov
Health Canada https://www.canada.ca
The College of Family Physicians of Canada http://www.cfpc.ca
Botoman VA, Bonner GF, Botoman DA. Management of inflammatory bowel disease. Am Fam Physician. 1998;57(1):57-68.
Crohn disease in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114217/Crohn-disease-in-adults . Updated September 12, 2017. Accessed October 3, 2017.
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at:https://www.cdc.gov/ibd/. Updated March 14, 2017. Accessed October 3, 2017.
Ulcerative colitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114507/Ulcerative-colitis . Updated July 28, 2017. Accessed October 3, 2017.
- Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Daus Mahnke, MD
- Review Date: 09/2018
- Update Date: 10/01/2014