What is Inflammatory Bowel Disease?
Could your pesky gastrointestinal symptoms be caused by this digestive disorder?
When it comes to dealing with GI problems, it’s difficult to pinpoint on your own what is going on. That’s why our Philadelphia, Langhorne and Bala Cynwyd, PA team of gastroenterologists is here to help make your diagnosis and treatment easier. If you are concerned that your symptoms could be due to Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), you’re not alone. It’s estimated that about 1.4 million Americans suffer from this problem. So, what exactly is it and how can you manage your symptoms?
What is IBD?
This group of disorders is characterized by chronic inflammation of all or some of the digestive tract. The two most common forms of IBD are ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, which you may have already heard of.
With ulcerative colitis you are more likely to experience not only inflammation of the digestive system but also ulcers in the colon and rectum. The inflammation caused by Crohn’s disease, on the other hand, can spread deep into the tissues and affect the large intestines, small intestines or sometimes both.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of IBD aren’t all the same and it will depend on where the inflammation is in the digestive tract and how severe it is. Some people may only experience minor discomfort while others’ digestive symptoms may be severe. Symptoms that are both common to Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis include:
- Low-grade fever
- Abdominal pain and cramping
- Nausea and vomiting
- Blood in the stool
- Loss or reduced appetite
- Unexpected or sudden weight loss
How can my Philadelphia, Langhorne and Bala Cynwyd, PA GI doctor help?
As you may have already guessed, the goal of treatment is to reduce inflammation and to stay away from anything that could cause these symptoms to flare-up. One of the most common types of medications used is anti-inflammatory medication. This includes treatments like corticosteroids or aminosalicylates (Azulfidine).
Another type of medication prescribed is an immune system suppressor, which reduces inflammation by suppressing the immune system. Common types of suppressors include Stelara and Imuran.
If you have ulcerative colitis and are currently dealing with a fever, your GI expert in Philadelphia, Langhorne and Bala Cynwyd may also prescribe an antibiotic to prevent infection. Come antibiotics include Cipro and Flagyl.
Other medications that may also help manage your IBD symptoms include:
- Pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen
- Anti-diarrheal medications
- Iron supplements
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin B-12 shots
If over time you discover that medications and lifestyle changes don’t provide relief then it may be time to consider surgery.
If your symptoms are pointing to IBD then it’s time you found out. Turn to the Gastrointestinal Specialists in Philadelphia, Langhorne and Bala Cynwyd, PA to help improve your digestive health.