Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory Bowel Disease


  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) refers to a group of idiopathic disorders that results from  inflammation in the digestive system. These conditions may be caused by immunodeficiencies or genetics, and people of any age are at risk.
  • The trend among Thai and Asian people toward western-style diets has led to a rise in the occurrence of IBD in the region.
  • IBD, if left untreated or not treated correctly, could put a person’s life in danger, including increasing their risk of developing colon cancer.

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) refers to a group of disorders resulting from inflammation in the digestive system. IBD comprises two main disorders: ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. The former condition is limited to the large intestine, while the latter can occur anywhere throughout the digestive tract, from the mouth to the anus, although it usually develops in the distal ileum and cecum. Nonetheless, both disorders can cause ulcers and bleeding in the digestive system, as well as increased intestinal contractions that lead to stomach pain, severe diarrhea, exhaustion and a sudden loss of weight.  

Causes of inflammatory bowel disease

The true cause of the condition remains unknown, but many doctors and experts in the field believe that it is linked to immune system abnormalities that cause an overproduction of white blood cells in the tissue walls of the digestive system which, in turn, lead to chronic inflammation and its complication such as perforation ,obstructions of digestive tract. That being said, genetics are also thought to play a crucial role, with the disease particularly common among those with a family history of the condition. People in this group are up to 20% more at risk of suffering from IBD than those without a family history of the condition.

Both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis can occur in people of any age. However, Crohn’s disease is generally diagnosed between age 20-30, whereas ulcerative colitis is usually detected between age 15-35. Traditionally, westerners would be considered more susceptible to both conditions, but current trends show that the disease is on the rise among Thais and Asians owing to changing lifestyles and diets that mirror those found in the western world.

Symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease

There is a range of potential symptoms associated with IBD depending on the location and severity of the inflammation. The most common symptoms are:

  • Stomach cramps
  • Diarrhea that may seem innocuous and only involve a few bowel movements per day, or may be much more serious involving highly frequent bowel movements with blood being passed with stools
  • Fever
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Exhaustion
  • Weight loss
  • Anemia

Other issues may also appear, such as joint pain, vision problems, or mouth ulcers, all of which may come and go and even disappear altogether for up to a year before making a return.

Diagnosing inflammatory bowel disease

Owing to the fact that inflammatory bowel disease has symptoms similar to a range of other digestive system disorders, accurately diagnosing the condition requires special screening, including:

  • A physical examination focusing on the stomach and anus.
  • Blood tests and stool analysis.
  • A complete blood count to rule out the possibility of blood loss during bowel movements or anemia.
  • A colonoscopy used to analyze the tissue of colon walls, and to remove a sample of inflamed tissue for laboratory analysis. This method is highly effective in screening for the disease and monitoring for colon cancer. It can detect the presence of any polyps at their outset, which helps medical staff plan treatment with greater accuracy and lowers the overall costs to the patient (Read more here: Click)
  • CT scan, GI follow through or video capsule endoscopy for evaluation of small in Intestinal involvement.

Treating inflammatory bowel disease

  • Pay close attention to diet and nutrition: There is yet to be any proven link showing a specific type of food directly tied to IBD. Nevertheless, eating a healthy, balanced diet, consisting of the 5 main food groups in moderation, remains pivotal to good health. Should you experience symptoms of IBD, it is recommended that you reduce your overall daily food consumption, stay properly hydrated, and avoid high-fat foods, alcohol and caffeinated beverages.
  • Take medication: Certain drugs can restore intestinal tissue to full health and ease symptoms of the disease. Patients should always take medication regularly as directed by their doctor in order to reduce the chances of the disease making a comeback.
  • Undergo surgery: In cases where medication has not managed the symptoms effectively, or where patients are experiencing serious complication, doctors may consider surgical treatment. Such treatment is generally effective in curing the condition altogether, although it is not recommended for Crohn’s disease sufferers as the disorder has the potential to present symptoms in both the large and small intestine. However, in special cases where IBD patients have developed intestinal fibrosis that has caused an obstruction resulting in malnutrition, doctors may turn to surgery.

Inflammatory bowel disease may present symptoms that come and go over time. As a result, many sufferers forget about the condition and neglect to seek out treatment. However, if the disease reaches a chronic stage without treatment, it can potentially become life-threatening owing to a significant loss of minerals, nutrients and blood, as well as anemic episodes and other complications that can result in the onset of colon cancer

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