What is Inflammatory Bowel Disease?
It could be IBD. An estimated one in five Americans, including children, have ulcerative colitis or Crohns disease (ileitis), which are inflammatory diseases of the large and small intestines referred to collectively as inflammatory bowel disease or IBD. Most people who have it ignore it and that is neither wise nor pleasant.
IBD is not a tummy ache that will go away. It is a chronic condition that requires proper diagnosis and treatment. Most people who have it can lead normal, active lies. Some, like President Dwight D. Eisenhower, can lead exceptional ones.
For the most part, doctors dont know what causes IBD, but it does tend to run in families, and scientists think that it may involve malfunctioning of the immune defense systems handling of viral or bacterial infection.
In addition to abdominal cramps, the symptoms include loose, bloody stool, diarrhea, and sometimes pain in the joints and skin sores. Crohns disease can inflame the colon, rectum, anus, stomach and ileum, which is the lower third of the small intestine. Other symptoms include fever and sores around the anus, as well as diarrhea and joint pains.
The treatment for both forms of IBD includes drugs such corticosteroids like prednisone. Other medications may include anti-diarrhea, antibiotics, and vitamins. Dietary changes can also be helpful. This can include drinking extra fluids to prevent dehydration, eating a low-fat diet, avoiding coffee, and limiting dairy products and any other foods that seem to aggravate symptoms. These foods may be different for every individual. A good diet is especially important because IBD is usually accompanied by loss of appetite and weight. Reducing stress and getting regular exercise can also help to reduce the symptoms of the disease.
Robin Westen is ThirdAges medical reporter. Check for her daily updates. She is the author of Ten Days to Detox: How to Look and Feel a Decade Younger.
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