Inflammatory Bowel Disease is a term used to describe several intestinal diseases that involve gut inflammation. Between 1 and 2 million individuals have inflammatory bowel disease in the US. If you have bouts of gut inflammation, diarrhea, constipation, gas, abdominal pain, and bloating, Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) may be to blame.

What Is Inflammatory Bowel Disease?

Crohns Disease- Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory Bowel Disease is a chronic digestive condition that causes the intestines to become inflamed, red, and irritated. The two most common IBD disorders are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Each of these conditions affects different areas of the digestive tract.

  • Crohn’s Disease

The inflammation experienced with Crohn’s disease can occur anywhere in the digestive tract – from the mouth all the way to the anus. All layers of the intestinal walls can be affected by Crohn’s disease. Some portions of the intestines can be healthy while other parts of the intestines can be inflamed.

  • Ulcerative Colitis

The inflammation experienced with ulcerative colitis only happens in the colon and it is continuous throughout the entire colon. The innermost lining of the colon is affected by ulcerative colitis.

Causes of Inflammatory Bowel Disease

There is no definite cause of Inflammatory bowel disease; however, there are several things that can increase your risk of developing IBD.

  • Age

On average, most IBD sufferers are diagnosed with a bowel disease before the age of 30; however, some individuals do not develop intestinal inflammation until later in life.

  • Unhealthy Eating Habits Environmental Factors

Individuals living in industrialized areas are at an increased risk of IBD. Researchers believe this is because individuals living in urban areas and industrialized countries are prone to eating more processed foods.

  • Genetics

If a family member (parent, grandparent, sibling, or child) has been diagnosed with a bowel disease, you are at an increased risk of developing IBD.

  • Immune System

The immune system is designed to fight off microbes. If the immune system does not function properly, it can attack the digestive system, increasing the risk of inflammatory bowel disease.

  • Medications

Medications, including NSAIDs like ibuprofen, diclofenac sodium, and naproxen sodium can increase the risk of developing IBD as well as worsening the symptoms of those suffering from swollen intestines.

  • Race

Although Crohn’s & colitis can occur in any race, Caucasians have an increased risk of developing IBD.

  • Sedentary Lifestyle

Leading a sedentary lifestyle can increase the risk of developing IBD. 

  • Smoking

Cigarette smoking remains one of the most controllable risk factors of inflammatory bowel disease. Smoking cigarettes causes systemic inflammation. Stop smoking to help improve the health of your digestive tract.

Digestive Disorder- Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Symptoms of IBD

The symptoms of IBD can vary in severity, frequency, and location. The most common symptoms experienced with inflammatory bowel disease include:

  • Abdominal Cramping
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Anal Fissures
  • Anemia
  • Arthritis
  • Bleeding Ulcers
  • Blood in Your Stools
  • Bloating
  • Bowel Obstructions
  • Adrenal Fatigue Canker Sores
  • Delayed Development
  • Diarrhea
  • Eye Inflammation
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Reduced Appetite
  • Skin Issues
  • Ulcers
  • Unintentional Weight Loss
  • Urgency

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Complications

If your IBD is not treated, it can lead to a variety of complications.

Complications experienced in all Bowel Diseases

  • Blood Clots – The risk of blood clots increases when you have an irritable bowel disease. These blood clots can occur anywhere in the body.
  • Colon Cancer – Your risk of colon cancer increases if you suffer from intestine inflammation.
  • Inflammation – Inflammation of the joints, eyes, or skin can occur, leading to arthritis and skin lesions during an IBD flare. Rheumatoid Arthritis Osteoarthritis
  • Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis – Inflammation within the bile ducts can occur. Over time, this inflammation can lead to narrowing and liver damage. 

Complications associated with Crohn’s Disease

  • Anal Fissures – Small tears can occur in the lining of the anus or the skin around the anus, causing painful bowel movements or perianal fistulas.
  • Bowel Obstructions – Crohn’s disease can inflame the entire intestinal wall. Over time, the bowel wall can become thick and cause a narrowing that can block food and waste. If your bowel becomes obstructed, you may need to have surgery to remove the inflamed and damaged portion of the bowel.
  • Fistulas – If the inflammation extends through the entire intestinal wall, a fistula can form. Fistulas are abnormal connections that occur between two body parts. 
  • Malnutrition – Inflammation of the small intestines can make it difficult to absorb the nutrients from your foods. When you suffer from Crohn’s, you may have low vitamin B12 or low iron levels, leading to anemia.

Complications associated with Ulcerative Colitis

  • Dehydration – Diarrhea associated with ulcerative colitis can lead to severe dehydration.
  • Perforated Colon – A hole can develop in the colon (perforated colon) due to an inflammation in the colon.
  • Toxic Megacolon – Ulcerative colitis can inflame the colon. This inflammation can occur rapidly and can cause the colon to widen and swell.

    Integrative Mens Health

Holistic IBD Treatment

Because the symptoms of IBD can vary from person to person, a variety of protocols may be used for treatment of inflammatory bowel disease. Your functional medicine clinician specializing in digestive disorders focuses on root causes analysis of your conditions. Gut doctors understand the inner workings of the digestive tract and how food sensitivities, lifestyle choices, and environmental factors can lead to inflammation and disease. Once a diagnosis is made, a customized treatment plan will be developed based on your unique needs.

Every aspect of your health is considered when developing a treatment plan. Pain medications, dietary changes, lifestyle recommendations, and supplements may be prescribed as part of your treatment plan. If you are suffering from diarrhea, fiber supplements may be recommended to help bulk up your stools. If inflammation of the small intestines prevents the proper digestion of foods, this may lead to nutritional deficiencies which may require specific vitamins and minerals improve gut health.