What is IBD?

"Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is a broad term that describes conditions characterized by chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. The two most common inflammatory bowel diseases are ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease." (CDC 2020).

Common symptoms of IBD include fatigue, weight loss, rectal bleeding, abdominal pain, persistent diarrhea. The exact cause of the disease is unknown but results from a defective immune system. In IBD patients, the immune system responds to environmental triggers incorrectly which causes the gastrointestinal tract to inflame.

Diagnosis & Treatments

IBD is diagnosed either through a colonoscopy or endoscopy in combination with imaging studies such as magnetic resonance imagine (MRI), radiography, or computed tomography (CT).

IBD can be treated with several different types of medications such as corticosteroids, immunomodulators, and aminosalycylates. There are also vaccines that are recommended for patients with IBD to help prevent infections. In some severe cases, IBD may require surgery if the GI tract has been too damaged.

Crohn's Disease

Crohn's most often affects the small intestine, but can affect any part of the GI tract, mouth to anus. The damaged tissues appear in patches next to healthy tissues. It is estimated that Crohn's affects 3 million Americans, with both men and women bring equally as likely. It can occur at any age, but is most often diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 30.

There has also been evidence found of a genetic component to Crohn's. Between 1.5% and 28% of patients have a parent, child, or sibling who also is affected. However, it is impossible to predict who may be affected by Crohn's based on family history.

Ulcerative Colitis

Colitis affects the large intestine and the rectum. The damaged tissues are continuous, not patchy like Crohn's. It usually starts at the rectum and spreads further into the colon. Colitis affects men and women equally, however, elderly men are more likely to be diagnosed than elderly women. Like Crohn's, colitis can occur at any age, but is most commonly diagnosed in mid-30's.

There is also a genetic component to colitis. Between 1.6% and 30% of patients have a parent, child, or sibling who also is affected. Also like Crohn's, it is impossible to predict which family members will develop ulcerative colitis.



Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What is IBD? (2020). https://www.cdc.gov/ibd/what-is-IBD.htm

Crohn's & Colitis Foundation. Overview of Crohn's Disease. (2020). https://www.crohnscolitisfoundation.org/what-is-crohns-disease/overview

Crohn's & Colitis Foundation. Overview of Ulcerative Colitis. (2020). https://www.crohnscolitisfoundation.org/what-is-ulcerative-colitis/overview