Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is an umbrella term typically referring to either Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, as well as other common forms such as diverticulitis.

Both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis involve gut inflammation and are conditions which are long term. While Crohn’s disease affects varying areas of the digestive system, ulcerative colitis only affects the large intestine or colon. The most common age bracket for IBD is between the ages of 15 and 40, but IBD sufferers can be any age.

What are the common Inflammatory Bowel Disease symptoms?

Typical symptoms experienced by IBD sufferers are:

  • abdominal pain
  • swelling and cramps
  • extreme fatigue
  • regular diarrhoea or diarrhoea involving blood
  • fever
  • anaemia
  • vomiting and weight loss.

Less common IBD symptoms outside the bowel include iritis (painful red eyes), arthritis, jaundice and painful red skin nodules, also known as erythema nodosum.

While some IBD patients are affected on a daily basis, others can go through long periods of remission with no symptoms, these can be interspersed with flare-ups which can be severe in their intensity.

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    Causes of IBD

    There is no single known cause of IBD, rather, a combination of varying factors are understood to contribute to the condition. Smokers are as much as twice as likely to have Crohn’s disease than those who do not smoke. Issues with the immune system can also play a part, while genetics have been seen as a link; people with close relatives who have IBD have more chance of developing the condition.

    Treatment for IBD in London

    As there is no known cure for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, symptoms are centred around relieving symptoms and preventing their return. Lifestyle changes, dietary alteration, drugs therapy, and in some cases surgery, are among the treatments which may be undergone.

    Among the typical medicines prescribed to treat Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are immunosuppressants, mesalazines and aminosalicylates. Treatments based on antibodies, such as biologics, are sometimes administered in the form of an injection which targets the immune system.

    Of people with ulcerative colitis, around 20% experience severe symptoms which medication does not improve. When a sufferer with severe symptoms has a section of the colon which becomes significantly inflamed, surgery is sometimes required to remove it.

    For those with Crohn’s disease, studies have shown 60 to 75% will require surgery in order to address complications and digestive system damage. There is an increased risk of bowel cancer for those with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, and colonoscopies are typically recommended to reduce the colon cancer risk.

    Contact an IBD expert today

    If you have experienced some of the symptoms above and wish to make an enquiry, London residents are advised to contact Mr Alastair Windsor via the confidential contact form here.