6 Symptoms Of IBD

Inflammatory Bowel Disease, or IBD, is a chronic condition that can affect the entire gastrointestinal tract, in particular the small intestine and colon. There isn’t one single cause, like a virus or bacterium, but genetic factors combined with diet, trauma, or change in gut microbes can provoke an inappropriate immune response that causes the tissue in the intestines to become inflamed.

IBD is an umbrella term that encompasses conditions like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, which have similar symptoms. The difference between these two is the location within the GI tract that is affected. These diseases can be cyclical, with patients experiencing “flare-ups,” when symptoms peak, followed by periods of remission with few symptoms. While IBD is rarely fatal on its own, it can cause a number of unpleasant symptoms in sufferers than can reduce quality of life.

1. Diarrhea

One hallmark sign of inflammatory bowel disease is diarrhea, or bowel movements that are loose or entirely liquid. A 2012 report noted that 77% of ulcerative colitis sufferers and 82% of Crohn’s disease sufferers were experiencing diarrhea when they were diagnosed. Diarrhea usually only occurs during a flare-up, but some people with Crohn’s disease may have it even during remission.

When a patient with IBD experiences a flare-up, his or her intestinal tissues become inflamed and can no longer properly do their job of removing water from the waste that passes through. The patient may also experience increased urgency, or the sudden need to go to the bathroom, as liquid material passes quickly through the colon. Different types of IBD can cause different consistencies of loose stools. Since Crohn’s disease affects the small intestine, the resulting diarrhea is watery and contains fats and oils that were not absorbed as they would be during normal digestion. Ulcerative colitis causes diarrhea that is more mucus-like and may contain blood.

It’s important to note that over-the-counter antidiarrheal medications are not designed for people with gastrointestinal disorders, so people with IBD should consult their doctors for more appropriate treatments. Anti-inflammatories, corticosteroids, antibiotics, or other medications or dietary changes will provide better relief.