Whether you've been diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or suspect that you may have the disease, you probably have a few questions. The gastroenterologists at Gastrointestinal Specialists in Torresdale, Bucks County and Bala Cynwyd, PA, discuss several things you should know about IBD.

What is IBD?

As the name implies, IBD causes inflammation in your digestive tract. When the sensitive tissues of your gastrointestinal system become inflamed, diarrhea, cramping, pain and other symptoms can occur. Ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease are the most common types of IBD. Nationally, approximately 1.6 million people are affected by IBD, according to the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation.

What are the symptoms of IBD?

In addition to diarrhea, pain and cramping, common symptoms include:

  • Lack of appetite and weight loss
  • Bloody stools or stool covered in pus
  • Fever
  • Urgent need to defecate
  • Fatigue
  • Delayed growth in children
  • Anal fistulas
What is the difference between Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis?

If you have Crohn's disease, inflammation can occur anywhere in your gastrointestinal tract, while ulcerative colitis affects only the large intestine and rectum. Although the inflammation caused by Crohn's disease can penetrate multiple layers of tissue, ulcerative colitis only affects the digestive tract lining. In addition to inflammation, ulcerative colitis also causes open sores, or ulcers, in the large intestine and rectum.

How is IBD treated?

Both Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are chronic conditions. Although they can't be cured, their symptoms can be managed. When you visit our Torresdale, Bucks County or Bala Cynwyd offices, one or more of these treatments may be recommended:

  • Anti-diarrheal medication
  • Vitamin B-12 shots to prevent anemia
  • Calcium and vitamin D supplementation to reduce your osteoporosis risk
  • Antibiotics to treat infections and help fistulas heal
  • Prescription anti-inflammatories that reduce the inflammation in your digestive tract
  • Prescription immune system suppressors that prevent your body from releasing the chemicals that cause inflammation
  • Surgery to remove the damaged sections of your digestive tract

The symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease can be managed or reduced by following the recommendations of your gastroenterologist. Are you concerned about your symptoms? Call Gastrointestinal Specialists to schedule an appointment. Call (215) 632-3500 for the Torresdale office, (215) 702-7090 for the Bucks County office and (610) 664-9700 for the Bala Cynwyd office.