What Is Inflammatory Bowel Disease?
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a condition that causes the gastrointestinal (GI) tract to become inflamed. More than 1 million Americans suffer from IBD and are faced with managing its chronic, and sometimes severe, symptoms.
Fortunately, there have been many advances in treatment and therapies for IBD to help individuals with the condition find relief.
IBD vs. IBS
Despite similar names, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are not the same condition. The primary differences are:
- IBD, including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, causes inflammation of the digestive tract.
- IBS does not cause inflammation or other serious complications, such as ulcers or damage to the bowel.
- In contrast, IBS is a functional disorder, which means the digestive tract looks normal but does not function properly.
Types of IBD
There are two primary types of IBD: Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. These conditions differ in important ways, primarily:
Crohn’s disease – This type of IBD can cause inflammation anywhere along the GI tract, and sometimes in multiple places. Inflammation can be severe and spread deeply into the bowel wall.
Ulcerative colitis – Ulcerative colitis only affects the large intestine and does not spread outside the bowel wall.
Differences Between Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis
It's important to distinguish between these conditions, as they require different therapies. Learn more about the differences between Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
Symptoms of IBD can vary across individuals, depending on the location and severity of inflammation. The most common symptoms include:
Loss of appetite
There are many new options to help individuals with IBD find relief. A gastroenterologist will work closely with you to diagnose and treat your condition. Treatment options may include medication, diet and lifestyle modifications and – if needed – surgery.