What is Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)?

Inflammatory bowel disease refers to a group of conditions that involve chronic inflammation of the digestive tract, such as ulcerative colitis (UC), and Crohn’s disease.

It’s now believed that the inflammation is due to your body mistakenly attacking a harmless virus, bacteria, or food in the gut, which results in injury to the bowel.

Ulcerative colitis only affects the colon (large intestine), while Crohn’s disease can involve any part of the gastrointestinal tract from the mouth to the rectum, although it most commonly affects the last part of your small intestine and/or the colon.

If you have an IBD, you will usually experience some mild-symptom or symptom-free periods that alternate with flare-ups where symptoms become more severe.

The symptoms of an IBD can be similar to those of several other gastrointestinal conditions, such as food intolerances and Irritable Bowel Syndrome, so it’s important you get the correct diagnosis from an expert.

Symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Abdominal cramps and pain
  • Diarrhea (that may sometimes be bloody)
  • Urgent need to have a bowel movement
  • Fever
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Iron deficiency anemia due to blood loss

If you have an IBD, you may also develop symptoms and conditions in other areas. The most common co-existing condition is arthritis, but you may also have skin conditions, inflammation of the eye, liver and kidney disorders, or bone loss.

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