Inflammatory Bowel Diseases

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The term inflammatory bowel disease refers to a group of disorders in which the intestines become inflamed (red and swollen), probably due to a reaction of the immune system against its own tissue.

There are two major types of inflammatory bowel disease: ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

As the name suggests, ulcerative colitis occurs in the colon (large intestine). Although Crohn’s disease may involve any part of the intestinal tract from mouth to anus, most commonly the small intestine and colon is affected.

Symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease varies in severity depending on where the inflammation and manifests.


1. Overview
2. Symptoms
3. Causes
4. Diagnosis


Symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease varies in severity depending on where the inflammation and manifests.

1. Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis – Ulcerative colitis is classified by its signs and symptoms:

- Ulcerative proctitis – if this form of ulcerative colitis, inflammation is limited to the area closest to the anus (rectum), and for some person, rectal bleeding may be the only sign of disease. In other cases can be present rectal pain, sense of urgency of defecation or elimination of stool frequency, small bowel movements. This form of ulcerative colitis tends to be lighter.

- Proctosigmoiditis – This form affects the rectum and lower colon, sigmoid colon known. Are present: bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramps, pain, and inability to eliminate the gut contents, despite the urgent need to do this.

- Left-sided colitis – as the name suggests, inflammation extends to the rectum and descending colon, which are located in the left upper abdomen. Manifestations include bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramps and pain in the left, accompanied by unintentional weight loss.

- Pancolitis – rather affects the left colon or the entire colon and causes severe bloody diarrhea seizures, cramps and abdominal pain, fatigue and weight loss important.

- Fulminant colitis – although rare, this form of colitis may endanger a person’s life. Affects the entire colon and causes severe pain, diarrhea and sometimes quantitative dehydration and shock. People with fulminant colitis have an increased risk of serious complications, including rupture of the colon, toxic megacolon.

Ulcerative colitis evolution varies with periods of acute illness, often alternating with periods of remission. Most patients who suffer from minor conditions such as ulcerative proctitis will not develop severe signs and symptoms.

2. Symptoms of Crohn’s disease – specific inflammation of Crohn’s disease may involve different parts of the digestive tract, on different people. The most affected areas for patients diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, are the last part of the small intestine called the ileum, and the colon. Inflammation may be limited to the bowel wall (which may stenosis) or can spread through the bowel wall.

Manifestations of Crohn’s disease can range from mild to severe, may develop gradually or occur suddenly without warning. These may include:

- Diarrhea – Inflammation that occurs in Crohn’s disease stimulates the secretion of large amounts of water and salt affected areas of gut cells. Because the colon can not absorb all this excess lichd, diarrhea will occur. Intense intestinal cramping can contribute to the occurrence of loose stools. Diarrhea is a problem common in people with Crohn’s disease.

- Abdominal pain and cramps – inflammation and ulcers can cause inflammation in certain portions of the abdominal walls, which can thicken and scar. This affects the normal bowel movement through the digestive tract and can lead to pain and cramps. In mild forms of Crohn’s disease, intestinal discomfort is minor, but in many severe cases the pain can be really powerful and may include nausea and vomiting.

- Blood in stool – foods that travel through the digestive tract can cause inflamed tissue bleeding. Bleeding can be localized to the intestine too. Possible to observe red blood in stool or dark, mixed with stool. In some cases, you probably can not be observed bleeding (occult bleeding).

- Ulcers – Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease can cause small lesions on the surface of the intestine, which converts to large ulcers that penetrate the intestinal wall. Ulcers may be present in another part of the body including the mouth (similar to canker sores).

- Reduction of appetite and weight loss – Abdominal pain, cramping and bowel wall inflammation can affect both appetite and capacity to digest and absorb food.

Patients with severe Crohn’s disease may experience:

- fever
- fatigue
- arthritis
- puffy eyes
- skin disorders and changes
- inflammation of the liver or bile ducts
- growth and delayed sexual development in children.


It is not known what causes inflammatory bowel disease, but there is a consensus on what not trigger it. Researchers no longer believe that diet and stress are among the main causes, although stress can worsen often symptoms. Instead, current theories focus on:

- Immune system – some scientists believe that a virus or bacteria may trigger inflammatory bowel disease. Digestive tract becomes inflamed when the immune system tries to fight invading microorganisms (pathogens). That inflammation may be caused by an autoimmune reaction where the body provides an immune response, even if a pathogen is present.
- Heredity – there are several possibilities for a person to develop inflammatory bowel disease, if this person has a parent or sibling diagnosed with this condition. However, the majority of those who suffer from inflammatory bowel disease, it is not present in family history.


Inflammatory bowel disease can be difficult to diagnose because it may not be visible any symptoms, even if the bowel is affected for many years. In addition, disease manifestations are similar to other conditions, which could hinder its detection by physicians.



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