- Diarrhoea is a very common symptom with IBD
- Bloody stools, or blood in the toilet when going for a poo
- Vomiting and nausea
- Abdominal pains caused by inflammation and ulceration in the digestive tract
- Bloated tummy
- Lack of energy or excessive tiredness for no apparent reason
- A low-grade fever can be experienced with IBD
- Sudden weight loss, often caused due to the body not properly absorbing nutrients from food
- Reduced appetite
Some of these symptoms are more common with Crohn’s disease and others are associated with colitis.
Consultation with a specialist, who can conduct the necessary diagnosis tests, is the first step to better understanding your symptoms.
Ulcerative colitis is one of the two main types of Inflammatory Bowel Disease.
It affects the large intestine and the exact location of the inflammation is generally a sign as to the type of colitis and also how severe the symptoms are likely to be.
The cause isn’t exactly known yet, although genetics and a poor immune system are thought to be contributing factors, as well as environmental factors such as where you live, how stressed you are and if you smoke.
Symptoms appear to be triggered from an exaggerated immune response in the colon, with the main symptoms of cramping and diarrhoea.
Crohn’s disease is the other of the two main types of IBD. Unlike colitis, Crohn’s disease can affect any part of the digestive system, although it is most common in the small or large colon.
Crohn’s is generally the more complex of the two conditions and surgery is typically required for more severe cases.
Like colitis, the exact cause isn’t known although diet remains a key focus in medical research as well as links to genetics, environment and stress factors.
Diagnosis tests vary according to your symptoms, but may include:
- A blood test
- A colonoscopy, which is a specific type of endoscopy that allows the doctor to explore inside your bowel.
Currently this test is used to diagnose Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis
- Upper endoscopy, used to diagnose specific cases of Crohn’s disease that are causing vomiting
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy, used to examine the lower end of your colon
Diagnosis of IBD is vital as symptoms that are left untreated can develop into wider health issues, and treatment is generally more successful the earlier it begins.
Medication typically includes:
- Anti-inflammatory drugs such as 5ASA medications
- Biologics, given via injection, help target the immune system
If the inflammation cannot be halted sufficiently with medication, and the inflammation is causing a narrowing of the passage, causing increased pain, colorectal surgery is the only remaining solution.
During surgery the inflamed part of the colon, or in some cases the entire large bowel, needs to be removed.