How Do I Know If I Have IBD? (Inflammatory Bowel Disease)
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) refers to a number of conditions characterized by inflammation of the large and/or small intestines, with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis (UC) representing the most common forms. Left untreated, IBD can lead to severe complications, as well as substantial pain and discomfort. Below, we will look at some of the symptoms of IBD, as well as how the condition is diagnosed. What is Inflammatory Bowel Disease? Inflammatory bowel disease is a condition in which the bowels become inflamed, red, and swollen. It is thought to be an autoimmune condition, in which the immune system attacks the body, leading to inflammation. Crohn's disease is a form of the condition which can affect the entire digestive tract, as far up as the esophagus to as far down as the rectum. Ulcerative colitis, in contrast, affects only the colon. Left untreated, IBD can cause serious damage to the digestive tract, along with serious malnutrition and/or dehydration. Signs and Symptoms of IBD The symptoms of IBD can vary depending on which form of the condition the patient has. The most common symptoms include:
- Diarrhea - Loose, frequent stools are characteristic of both UC and Crohn's disease. Patients with UC may have up to 20 loose stools a day.
- Bloody stools - Blood in the stool is commonly associated with UC. It can also be a sign of other serious gastrointestinal conditions such as cancer. Any bloody stools merit investigation, regardless.
- Pain - Pain and cramping are very common with IBD, and can sometimes be severe.
- Fatigue - People with IBD often feel fatigued, due to the immune response and the malnutrition associated with the disease.
- Fever - It is common for patients with IBD to display a low-grade fever of 99-100 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Weight loss - Because IBD makes it more difficult for the digestive tract to absorb nutrients, patients with the condition often display dramatic weight loss.
- Reduced appetite - It is common to find food unappealing when you have IBD.