There are many forms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), with the main ones including Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. Whilst they are all different, the main symptoms remain almost the same. They all involve the inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract and they are basically caused by an abnormal response in the body's immune system.
The immune system is there to protect our bodies against foreign objects and disease. Unfortunately, when a person suffers from this bowel disorder, their immune system can mistake anything; including food and other helpful materials found in the digestive system, as a threat. It tries to protect the body by attacking the cells within the immune system and white blood cells go to the lining of the intestines and cause the inflammation. That is when the symptoms of the condition can be felt. The condition can occur at any age, but it most commonly affects people aged 15-30.
So, how do you know if you have Inflammatory Bowel Disease? Look for the symptoms.
What are the Symptoms of IBD?
There are a number of common symptoms that a person with IBD will suffer with. These include abdominal pain, weight loss, diarrhea, bright red blood in the stools and vomiting. It is not uncommon for loss of appetite to occur and for you to feel increasingly drowsy.
Every person will experience differing levels of the symptoms. Some people may only experience slight discomfort every now and again, whilst others could develop frequent intestinal ulcers and inflamed joints or even eye problems.
If you suffer from Ulcerative Colitis, it only affects the large intestine. Crohn's Disease can affect any part of the intestines, but typically, it affects the lower small intestine.
Diagnosis of the Condition
In order to detect IBD, doctors will usually carry out a Colonoscopy. This includes a small camera being inserted into the anus so that the doctor can get a better idea of what is going on inside your intestines. A biopsy can be done during this procedure and foreign lesions can be removed if necessary.
However before that is given, the doctor will give you an initial consultation. You will have to provide your medical history details and discuss any medications that you may be taking. If this illness is suspected, blood tests may be given to see whether there is any inflammation within the body. You will also be required to give a stool sample.
Whilst a Colonoscopy is the most common test used to diagnose the condition, an upper endoscopy may also be given. This checks the stomach and the upper small intestine for any ulcers or bleeding. You may also be given a Barium Study that involves you drinking a thick white solution known as Barium. This solution shows up white on an X-Ray and the doctor will see exactly what is going on within the intestines.
Overall IBD is more serious than IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). The symptoms can be particularly painful and uncomfortable. If you do notice that you are suffering from any of the symptoms mentioned above then you should consult your doctor straight away.