Roughly 3 million Americans are diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a chronic disease including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. IBD causes ulcers, bleeding, and other damage to the digestive tract, with symptoms that affect overall health and quality of life. Without proper management, IBD symptoms can be life-threatening.
Desert West Surgery is recognized as a leading provider of IBD treatment for patients in Las Vegas, Nevada, using the most advanced, innovative options to help patients relieve symptoms and improve their health. In this post, our team offers an overview of IBD, including why it happens, what symptoms it causes, and how proactive medical treatment can help.
Basic facts about IBD
As its name implies, IBD causes significant inflammation that can occur anywhere along the digestive tract, depending on your IBD type. That inflammation is triggered by an abnormal immune system response that causes your immune system to attack healthy cells within the tract.
Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis affect different parts of the digestive tract and different layers of tissue. While Crohn’s disease can affect any part of the digestive tract, ulcerative colitis involves the colon and rectum. Both conditions cause inflammatory lesions, but Crohn’s disease lesions can affect the entire thickness of tissue, while ulcerative colitis lesions tend to remain within the more superficial layers of tissue.
While researchers don’t know the exact cause of IBD, they believe it’s a combination of environmental triggers and genetic factors that make some people more likely to develop it. Both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis cause an array of uncomfortable symptoms, which can include:
- Stool containing blood, pus, or mucus
- Belly cramps
- Unexplained weight loss
- Joint pain
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Anal abscesses or fistulas
- Nausea or vomiting
The type of symptoms you have will depend on which area of the digestive tract is affected and the severity of the disease.
Patients with IBD also have an elevated risk of developing colon cancer, which means it’s essential to have regular colonoscopies to screen for the early stages of the disease. Any type of blood in the stool or bleeding after having a bowel movement should be medically evaluated right away.
Managing IBD and its symptoms
Managing IBD begins with diagnosing the condition. Typically, doctors diagnose IBD through stool samples, blood tests, and diagnostic tests like colonoscopy or endoscopy to see inside your digestive tract and look for signs of disease.
Once IBD is diagnosed, most patients begin treatment with medications designed to prevent the abnormal immune response and inhibit the inflammatory response that causes permanent damage to the digestive tract. Sometimes, doctors prescribe antibiotics to treat any active infections and medication to treat anemia or other symptoms or complications.
While medication can be helpful, about 70 percent of IBD patients will need colon surgery to remove the damaged part of the bowel. Our team is skilled in “traditional” and minimally invasive colon surgeries, so you can feel confident your surgery will be tailored to your specific needs for optimal outcomes.
Get help for IBD
IBD affects your physical and emotional health, increasing your risk of colon cancer and other serious medical problems. To learn more about IBD and how we can help you manage your disease, call Desert West Surgery and schedule a visit at the Las Vegas location nearest you.