Inflammatory Bowel Disease can be discomforting and if left untreated, may also pose risks for colon cancer. Discover the treatments provided by our expert gastroenterologists to counter IBD and other gastroenterological disorders.
The chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract is known as Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome and the condition is further classified into two categories, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis. Crohn’s disease can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract, most commonly the small intestine and large, appearing in patches. Whereas ulcerative colitis disease occurs in the rectum and the large intestine only. Inflammation caused by ulcerative colitis is found in the inner layer of the colon’s lining while Crohn’s disease causes inflammation in multiple layers of the gastrointestinal tract.
It is important to note that inflammatory bowel disease is different than irritable bowel syndrome and the cause and treatment for both are different. Sometimes Inflammatory bowel disease can mimic symptoms of IBS or vice versa. Irritable bowel syndrome affects a patient's bowel functions which cause them to either contract more or less often than usual. Unlike inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome does not cause inflammation in the intestines which is why doctors may not be able to detect it through imaging scans. It is possible for patients with IBD to develop symptoms of IBS but not vice versa.
Though researchers have not been able to determine the root cause of inflammatory bowel disease, they believe that certain factors such as genetics play an important role in causing the disorder. Some other causes of IBD include:
- Immune system response: In patients with a weak immune system response, food is typically mistaken as foreign substances that are seen as a threat by the immune system. In order to counter this threat, the immune system release antibodies to fight which then results in patients experiencing IBD symptoms.
- Environmental factors: Your surrounding can play an important role in exposing you to certain triggers that can be the cause of IBD.
Symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease can either be mild or severe, as well as appear suddenly or build up gradually. The most common symptoms of IBD experienced by patients are:
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite
- Blood or mucus in stool
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Bowel urgency
In some rare cases, inflammatory bowel syndrome may also cause the following symptoms depending on severity of the condition:
- Itchy eyes
- Joint pain
- Skin rashes
- Vision impairment
If inflammatory bowel disease is left untreated, patients are at a greater risk at developing colorectal cancer than general population. Some of the other complications that may arise due to IBD are:
- Kidney Stones
- Anal stricture
- Anal fistula
- Perforated bowel requiring operation
- Liver disease
Since Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis cause symptoms that are largely similar, doctors recommend a series of in order to reach a correct diagnosis. Complete blood work and stool tests are important in order to determine any signs of inflammation. Following is a list of some more diagnostic tests that your doctor may perform depending on your history and symptoms:
- CT scan or MRI
- Capsule endoscopy
- Upper endoscopy
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy
- Endoscopic ultrasound
Treatments for inflammatory bowel disease vary on whether the patient has Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis and also depending of severity of the disease. Doctors may prescribe medication in order to control intestinal inflammation which can include:
- Biologics (To control immunity)
- Corticosteroids (For the acute attack of symptoms)
Surgical treatments are also an option if the severity of the condition worsens, and medications no longer provide relief from IBD symptoms. Medical experts work together with the surgeons in a multi-disciplinary way to decide if surgical treatment is needed. The surgeon removes the affected bowel segment and connects the healthy ends of the bowels together. The remaining bowel then adapts and begins to function normally, however, some patients may have a recurrence in which case they may require another bowel resection. In the case of the ulcerative colon, surgeons may perform a colectomy or a proctocolectomy to counter IBD symptoms.
Our aim as gastroenterologists is the manage the condition with medications to avoid or obviate any need for surgery
If you are experiencing symptoms of IBD and would like to consult one of our expert doctors, you can contact us through the form provided on our website. American Hospital Dubai houses US board-certified/ UK gastroenterologists who are equipped in dealing with a wide spectrum of gastroenterological diseases.