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8 things you didn't know about inflammatory bowel disease, territory medical group

Inflammatory Bowel Disease is the umbrella term used to describe many disorders affecting the gastrointestinal tract (GI tract) causing chronic inflammation and bowel movements. 

The common forms of IBD such as Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis affect almost 75,000 Australians with this number estimated to increase to 100,000 by 2022. 

Take a look at the 8 things you didn’t know about Inflammatory Bowel Disease 

1. Inflammatory bowel disease occurs because of an overactive immune system

While the exact reason for causing IBD is still unknown, it occurs as a result of an overactive immune system. This happens when the immune system incorrectly responds to environmental triggers such as viruses and bacteria, causing chronic inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract. 

2. Its 2 major types occur in different parts of the GI tract

The two major types of Inflammatory Bowel Disease are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. While Crohn’s disease can affect any part of the GI tract from the mouth to the anus, ulcerative colitis is limited to the lining of the large intestine, also called the colon. 

In the case of Crohn’s disease, the inflammation can occur in between healthy parts, but on the other hand, ulcerative colitis is the continuous inflammation of the colon

3. IBD goes far beyond just causing bowel healthy issues 

While inflammatory bowel syndrome can wreak havoc in the bowel, its impact goes well beyond stomach pain, rectal bleeding and diarrhoea. It can cause severe or cramping pain in the abdomen, joint pain and even skin rashes. In fact, it can also manifest into affecting the entire body, sometimes affecting your mental health and causing eye problems

4. IBD and mental health wellness are often liked together 

Not everyone with inflammatory bowel disease has the risk of mental health issues, but they are often linked together. A study in “Psychological Issues with IBD” have found that depression and anxiety are very common in patients diagnosed with any form of IBD. Moreover, living with a chronic disease like IBD can be challenging, with many patients complaining about feelings of sadness, foul mood and frustrations. 

5. Inflammatory bowel disease is different from Irritable Bowel Syndrome 

Unlike IBS, which is a combination of abnormalities,  IBD is not a syndrome, which is why it can be diagnosed and treated easily when compared to IBS. But, at the same time, untreated IBD can also lead to a number of severe complications including malnutrition in children and damage to the bowel. 

6. No one knows what causes inflammatory bowel disease 

No studies have not yet found what causes it; hence inflammatory bowel disease comes with no cure. Having said that, there is a combination of factors like genetics, environmental factors such as pollution, exposure to chemicals, diet and an unpredictable immune reaction that are to be blamed. At the same time, there is no evidence that a specific diet or life stressor can trigger IBD

7. Genetics could trigger IBD too

If you have a family history of inflammatory bowel disease, then you might have a higher risk for the disease. For example, people who have first-degree relatives suffering from or have been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease before are at a higher risk of developing one. 

8. Symptoms are usually flare-ups and then goes into remission 

The symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease are rather flare-ups, that happens for a while and then goes into remission. But the flare-ups with Crohn’s disease are generally worse, causing myriad things such as abdominal pain that worsens after each meal, painful bowel movements, unexplained weight loss and fatigue. 

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