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Gastroenterology & Hepatology (Digestive Care)
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IBD, including Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is an umbrella term used to describe disorders that cause chronic inflammation of your digestive tract. Types of IBD include:
- Ulcerative colitis. This condition involves inflammation and sores (ulcers) along the superficial lining of your large intestine (colon) and rectum.
- Crohn's disease. This type of IBD is characterized by inflammation which often can involve the deeper layers of the digestive tract.
Both ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease usually are characterized by diarrhea, rectal bleeding, abdominal pain, fatigue and weight loss.
The exact cause of inflammatory bowel disease remains unknown.
One possible cause is an abnormal immune response that causes the immune system to attack the cells in the digestive tract. Heredity also seems to play a role in that IBD is more common in people who have family members with the disease. However, most people with IBD don't have this family history.
- Age. Most people who develop IBD are diagnosed before they're 30 years old. But some people don't develop the disease until their 50s or 60s.
- Race or ethnicity. Although whites have the highest risk of the disease, it can occur in any race.
- Family history. You're at higher risk if you have a close relative — such as a parent, sibling or child — with the disease.
- Cigarette smoking. Cigarette smoking is the most important controllable risk factor for developing Crohn's disease.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications. These include ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others), naproxen sodium (Aleve), diclofenac sodium and others. These medications may worsen the disease in people who have IBD.
The goal of inflammatory bowel disease treatment is to reduce or eliminate the inflammation that triggers your symptoms. This may lead not only to symptom relief but also to long-term remission and reduced risks of complications. IBD treatment usually involves drug therapy. If your IBD symptoms do not improve, your doctor may recommend surgery.