Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is swelling and irritation of the intestines. This can cause a range of symptoms including abdominal discomfort and problems breaking down food. Two forms of IBD are:
IBD is a lifelong illness. The symptoms may be constant or occur during flare-ups. There is no cure for IBD but treatments can help control symptoms.
The exact cause of IBD is not known. Some believe IBD may be the result of:
The following factors increase your chance of developing IBD:
Symptoms depend on the type of IBD, but common symptoms may include:
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Your doctor may need images of the intestines to look for swelling and irritation or other conditions. Image may be taken with:
Your doctor may also look for signs of infection through:
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include:
IBD symptoms may be reduced with simple dietary changes.
In general, eat a
Overall wellness may also play a role in reducing IBD flare-ups. Find ways to reduce stress. Get plenty of rest.
Most medicines for IBD focus on reducing the swelling and irritation. Medicines include:
Surgery is not helpful for all types of IBD.
For people with very severe ulcerative colitis, a
surgery to remove the colon
may be done.
Since the cause is not clear, there are no known prevention steps.
American Academy of Family Physicians
National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse
Canadian Family Physician
Botoman VA, Bonner GF, et al. Management of inflammatory bowel disease. American Family Physician website. Available at:
http://www.aafp.org/afp/980101ap/botoman.html. Published 1998. Accessed June 27, 2007.
Brandt LJ, Steiner-Grossman P, eds.
Treating IBD: A Patient’s Guide to the Medical and Surgical Management of Inflammatory Bowel Disease. New York, NY: Raven Press; 1989.
Inflammatory bowel disease. American Academy of Family Physicians website.
http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/common/digestive/disorders/252.html. Updated February 2011. Accessed December 28, 2012.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us. Updated November 25, 2012. Accessed December 28, 2012.
Steiner-Grossman P, Banks PA, et al, eds.
The New People Not Patients: A Source Book for Living With IBD. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company; 1992.
Last reviewed September 2013 by Daus Mahnke, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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