IBD: A Common Pain in the Gut

Submitted by Dr. Bruce Waldholtz on May 10, 2021

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Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is more common than you may think.

More than one million people suffer from the symptoms of IBD—an umbrella term used to describe the two main chronic inflammatory conditions that impact the gastrointestinal tract, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

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Symptoms of IBD

  • Diarrhea
  • Cramping or abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Rectal bleeding or bloody diarrhea
  • Anemia

Who is at risk?

The onset of IBD has two typical waves. While symptoms usually begin in males and females between the ages of 15 and 35, there is another recognized peak in adults ages 50 to 70. IBD is also most common in whites, but anyone of any race is at risk.

Because IBD usually happens in young, otherwise healthy people, diagnosis can be delayed. If you’re experiencing any abdominal, rectal or toileting concerns, it is important to speak openly and honestly with your doctor.

Other IBD risk factors

  • Family history
  • Cigarette smoking
  • A pre-existing auto immune disease

What are the complications of IBD?

Possible complications of uncontrolled Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis can include malnutrition, bone loss, intestinal perforations or obstructions, dehydration as well as kidney and liver disorders. Those with IBD are also at higher risk of colon cancer and blood clots.

Is remission possible?

While IBD is a chronic disease, remission can be achieved. Each year advances are made in the treatment of these diseases. In fact, as the mechanics and biology of inflammation are better understood, more targeted medications have become available. These medications can help to control symptoms and flare-ups with fewer side effects. Treatment can include nutritional changes or surgery and symptom remission can help to heal the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, improving long-term quality of life.

It’s important to stay in touch with your physician to better manage your IBD health and stay up to date on the latest advancements that may be right for you.

Dr. Bruce Waldholtz practices at Gastroenterology Associates and Chesapeake Regional Medical Center.