Inflammatory Bowel Diseases
There are several inflammatory bowel diseases all of which need to be diagnosed and treated by a doctor. Two of the more common inflammatory bowel diseases are ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
Ulcerative colitis is where the lining of the large intestine (that is the bowel and the colon) and the rectum become inflamed. The inflammation typically begins in the rectum and the lower intestine (sigmoid) and then spreads upwards to the rest of the colon.
People with ulcerative colitis can experience different symptoms including abdominal pain, bloody diarrhea, anemia which is caused by the rectal bleeding, fatigue, loss of body fluids and nutrients, weight loss, and also loss of appetite. Common symptoms include diarrhea and a frequent need to empty the colon. Ulcers (open sores) form that cause pus, mucus and bleeding.
The disease can run in families and usually affects individuals of either sex between the ages of 15 and 40. Ulcerative colitis requires long-term care and there may be remissions (periods of no symptoms). Remissions can last for months or even years. However as this is a long term disease the symptoms do return . The disease is rarely fatal and in those cases where fatality occurs it is due to complications. The risk for individuals with ulcerative colitis to get colon cancer is no higher than anyone else.
People with ulcerative colitis may also experience anemia, inflammation of the eyes, liver disorders, osteoporosis, joint pain, skin lesions, rashes and kidney stones.
Crohn’s disease is a chronic condition that involves the small intestine. Inflammation may involve the entire digestive tract, including the mouth, esophagus, stomach, appendix, duodenum and also the anus. You may also hear Crohn’s disease referred to as ileitis or enteritis. Crohn’s disease runs in families, and occurs in both males and females.
The symptoms are abdominal pain, usually in the lower right area of the abdomen, diarrhea, rectal bleeding, and fever and weight loss.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Irritable bowel syndrome is an intestinal disorder that some people have misconceptions about and incorrectly refer to the disease by other names such as colitis, mucous colitis, spastic colon, spastic bowel or functional bowel disease. IBS is a functional disorder.
A person affected with IBS may experience cramps, gas, bloating, and also changes in their normal bowel habits. Stress may worsen IBS but it does not cause it.
IBS does not cause permanent harm to the intestines; it does not lead to intestinal bleeding of the bowel and does not lead to any serious disease such as cancer. There is also no link at all between IBS and Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
Somebody who has IBS has a more sensitive colon than the average person. It does not take much for the colon to spasm when the person has IBS. Women who have IBS tend to have more symptoms during their period, which may mean that the reproductive hormones have something to do with increased IBS symptoms.