Inflammatory Bowel Disorders

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is the term used to describe two inflammatory disorders of the gut: Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis.

Crohn’s Disease

About Crohn’s Disease

Crohn’s Disease is a long-term condition that causes inflammation in the lining of the digestive system. It can affect any part of the digestive system but is found most commonly in the last section of the small intestine – the ileum – and the large intestine – the colon.

Symptoms

People with the condition can go for long periods without any symptoms, or with very mild symptoms. When they occur, the symptoms include:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Fatigue (extreme tiredness)
  • Abdominal pain
  • Blood or mucus in your poo

Symptoms can sometimes flare up, leading to problems in other parts of the body, such as:

  • Arthritis.
  • Red, swollen skin in places.
  • Mouth ulcers.
  • Irritated eyes.

Who might be at risk?

Estimates put the number of people with Crohn’s Disease in the UK at around 115,000, making it a relatively uncommon condition. It occurs most frequently between the ages of 16 and 30 although it can also be found in children.

A large number of cases develop between 60 and 80. The exact cause of the disease is unknown, but it is believed to be linked to a number of factors including:

  • Problems with the immune system
  • Genetics
  • Smoking
  • Environmental factors

Common Methods of Treatment

Depending on the severity of the condition and the symptoms experienced, your doctor may recommend surgical or non-surgical treatment.

Non-surgical

Medical therapies recommended by gastroenterologists include:

  • 5-ASA
  • Azathioprine
  • Mercaptonpurine
  • Methotrexate
  • Steroids
  • Biological therapies (Inflixin, Adalimumab, Golimumab, Vendolizumab)

Surgical

The type of surgery will depend on the type and extent of your Crohn’s. Treatments include:

  • Laparoscopic / single incision small bowel resection
  • Ileo-caecal resection
  • Stricturoplasty
  • Ileo-rectal anastomosis
  • Proctocolectomy with stoma
  • Proctocolectomy
  • Stoma
FAQ's
Crohn’s Disease

Unfortunately doctors don’t yet fully understand what causes Crohn’s Disease, which means they also don’t know how to prevent it. Advice is available on managing symptoms and reducing flare-ups. For example, you should avoid foods that exacerbate your condition (you may want to keep a food diary to help you identify these), limit your intake of dairy products, drink plenty of water and be careful to avoid eating too much fibre.

Your doctor will want to run a series of tests to confirm a diagnosis. These are likely to include a blood test, testing your poo for traces of blood and other procedures such as:

  • Colonoscopy
  • CT scan
  • MRI scan
  • Capsule endoscopy
  • Balloon-assisted enteroscopy.

There is currently no known cure for Crohn’s Disease. However, there are treatments to help you manage the symptoms and prevent complications. These include anti-inflammatory drugs, immune system suppressors, antibiotics, nutrition therapy and surgery. Your doctor will advise on the best type of treatment for you.

Ulcerative Colitis

About

Ulcerative Colitis is a long-term condition that produces inflammation in the colon (the large intestine) and the rectum (the end of the large intestine). Small ulcers can develop in the colon’s lining. These can bleed and produce pus.

Symptoms

Symptoms can very in severity according to the extent of the inflammation. For some people the condition has a significant impact on their day-to-day lives. Symptoms include:

  • Fatigue (extreme tiredness).
  • Diarrhoea, which may contain blood, pus or mucus.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Needing to poo frequently.

Symptoms can sometimes flare up, leading to problems in other parts of the body, such as:

  • Arthritis.
  • Red, swollen skin in places.
  • Mouth ulcers.
  • Irritated eyes.

Who might be at risk?

Ulcerative Colitis affects around 146,000 people in the UK. It is most commonly diagnosed in people aged from 15 to 25, although it can develop at any age.

The exact causes are unknown but genetics and environmental factors are believed to play a part. It is an autoimmune condition which means the body’s immune system malfunctions and starts to attack healthy tissue, in this case the lining of the colon.

Common Methods of Treatment

Medically based treatments and surgical treatments are commonly used in the treatment of Ulcerative Colitis. Your doctor will recommend the most appropriate treatment for you based on your symptoms.

Non-surgical

Medical therapies recommended by gastroenterologists include:

  • 5-ASA
  • Azathioprine
  • Mercaptonpurine
  • Methotrexate
  • Steroids
  • Biological therapies (Inflixin, Adalimumab, Golimumab, Vendolizumab)

Surgical

The type of surgery will depend on the type and extent of your Ulcerative Colitis. Treatments include:

  • Laparoscopic / single incision ileo-rectal anastomosis
  • Ileal pouch
  • Proctocolectomy and stoma
FAQ's
Ulcerative Colitis

Inflammatory Bowel Disease is the umbrella term for two bowel conditions – Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis. Ulcerative colitis causes inflammation and ulceration of the lining of the rectum and colon.

Doctors do not fully understand what causes ulcerative colitis. Research suggests that it is caused by a combination of factors – your genes, an abnormal reaction of the immune system to gut bacteria and the environment.

At present there is no cure for ulcerative colitis other than surgery. Treatment with immunosuppresants can help to reduce the inflammation; however, only surgically removing the colon and rectum can cure ulcerative colitis.

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