Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is a chronic autoimmune condition involving the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. IBD affects 28 million people worldwide with more people being diagnosed daily.
IBD can spread from the GI tract and manifest into the joints, skin and eyes.
There is no cure, however, various treatment options are available to reduce symptoms, induce remission and improve quality of life.
IBD can occur at any age with onset typically seen in teenagers and young adults. Risk factors include recurring infections, smoking, and use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). Patients with relatives who have Crohn’s Disease are ten times more likely to be affected. Caucasians are at greater risk than the general population.
IBD can be further classified as two disease states: Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease.
Symptoms of IBD may or may not include abdominal pain, bloody stools, weight loss, ulcers and variation in bowel movement frequency.
Various medications are available to treat IBD. Current treatments can be very effective and have reduced mortality to less than one percent. Medications range from oral therapies to injectable medications that alter the course of the disease and/or control symptoms.
Due to the localized nature of the infection in the colon, surgery is a valid treatment option for Ulcerative Colitis. Surgery is less effective in Crohn’s disease as the inflammation is generally not limited to one area of the GI tract.