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Inflammatory Bowel Disease

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Inflammatory Bowel Diseases have become one of the most rampant digestive disorders worldwide today. This disease manifests in different forms causing mild to severe discomfort in an individual. Inflammatory Bowel Diseases can be restrictive to your lifestyle as they are usually long term diseases and in some cases recurrent. Read on to learn more about the types of inflammatory bowel diseases, causes, symptoms and suggested methods of treatment.


Inflammatory Bowel Diseases

Intestine and the colon play a vital role in digestion and absorption of nutrients from ingested food. An individual is said to be suffering from inflammatory bowel diseases when their intestines or colon are swollen. This inflammation not only hinders digestion but also causes severe discomfort.


Causes of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases

Research has proven that several factors could contribute to the inflammation of the intestine. Some of them are listed below:

Hyperactive Immune system: The immune system tends to produce chemicals and cells when it recognizes foreign bodies like viruses, bacteria and fungi in the ingested food in a bid to protect the digestive system from any diseases. These excessive chemicals and cells cause inflammation in the tissues of the intestine causing swelling and leading to inflammatory bowel diseases


Heredity: In some cases, these diseases can be genetic.


Physiological factors: Factors like stress, depression, environment which dictate a person's dietary habits and appetite also tend to affect the process of digestion and contribute to inflammation of the intestine


Types of Inflammatory bowel disease


Inflammatory Bowel Diseases are primarily classified into the following two types based on the location of occurrence of inflammation /swelling and the pattern of inflammation.


Crohn's disease: This inflammatory bowel disease can affect both the large and the small intestine. All the layers of the intestinal wall are affected by the inflammation. As the inflammation worsens, the tissue sloughs off causing perforations in the intestine.


Ulcerative Colitis: In ulcerative colitis the lining of the rectum and the large intestine get inflamed or swollen. This type of inflammatory bowel disease rarely affects the small intestine.


Though the inflammatory bowel diseases are diverse in nature, they are characterized by a few common symptoms:


Painful cramps/pain in the abdomen: Individuals affected with Crohn's disease experience pain in the right side of their lower abdomen whereas Individuals affected with Ulcerative Colitis tend to experience pain the left side.


Rectal Bleeding or blood/pus in stools: Individuals with inflammatory bowel diseases tend to have blood or pus in their stools. This occurrence is common with Ulcerative Colitis and less prevalent in Crohn's disease.


Dehydration due to excessive Diarrhea and vomiting


Weight loss

Inflammatory Bowel diseases also lead to other diseases such as arthritis, spondylitis, liver disorders, ulcers in mouth and tongue, skin rashes, swelling of the eye etc. In severe cases these diseases can lead to colon cancer.


Apart from evaluating the symptoms, Gastroenterologist use several methods to confirm the kind of Inflammatory Bowel Disease


Endoscopy: Examination of the colon by inserting narrow flexible tubes with cameras for redness and patterns of inflammation


Stool Tests: Tests are conducted on stools for blood, pus and germs


Blood Tests: An increase in the white blood cells count in the blood concludes that an inflammation has taken place in the body.


X rays: Special x rays are taken to evaluate the damage occurred to the intestinal wall


Treatment of Inflammatory bowel disease

Based on the diagnosis, gastroenterologists usually prescribe medicines to cure the relevant inflammatory bowel diseases in the following phases:


Control: Anti-inflammatory drugs are prescribed to suppress and control the inflammation. In some cases, drugs which are immune system suppressants are prescribed to tackle the hyperactive immune system. Steroids may need to be administered in severe cases of inflammation


Protect: Anti fungal or antibiotic drugs are prescribed to avoid infection and kill germs which could have been caused by inflammatory bowel diseases. Pain killers could be prescribed so that pain or discomfort could be minimal and the individual could carry on with his day-day activities


Maintain: Dietary changes are recommended. Excessive dietary fiber is excluded from diet. For certain inflammatory bowel diseases, wheat, dairy and refined products are excluded from the diet. Over the counter laxatives are prescribed to facilitate stool movement. Dietary supplements to complement nutrition are prescribed they usually includes supplements containing Vitamin E, Vitamin C, magnesium, glutamine.


Lifestyle changes like refraining from smoking in case of Crohn's disease are recommended. Adequate exercise and hydration are recommended to cure Inflammatory Bowel Diseases. Antidepressants are prescribed to patients suffering from depression to alleviate symptoms of depression and control inflammation.


Surgery: In severe cases of Ulcerative Colitis, surgery is performed.Depending on the severity a part or the entire colon is surgically removed to control inflammation and prevent infection to the rest of the body. Gastroenterologists resort to surgery only when the patient does not respond to medication. Surgery however is not an option in the other forms of inflammatory bowel diseases. Eg: Crohn's disease


After several years of research conducted for alternative methods to treat Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, the following methods are considered effective

  • Acupressure
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Acupuncture

However these maybe undertaken only under the supervision of certified therapists only after evaluating the severity of the condition. Usage of the natural supplements like Garlic, Chamomile Tea, Fish oil extracts and Probiotics also tend to alleviate the discomfort caused by Inflammatory Bowel Diseases. Please do remember to consult your doctor to avoid any possible allergies whilst taking these natural supplements.


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