Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is an expansive term that describes conditions with chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract and recurring immune response.
Because the first week of December is recognized as “National Crohn’s Disease Awareness”, the Chiropractors at AICA Snellville are offering great information around what this condition is, how it affects people, and what types of treatment options exist.
Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis
The two most common IBDs are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Neither Crohn’s disease nor ulcerative colitis should be confused with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a disorder that disturbs the motility (muscle contractions) of the colon. IBS is not characterized by inflammation of the intestines and is, therefore, much less serious than Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.
IBD is one of the most predominant digestive diseases in the United States with an overall healthcare cost in excess of $1.7 billion. IBD is without a known cure and usually requires a lifetime of care.
Each year, IBD accounts for more than 700,000 doctor visits, 100,000 hospitalizations, and disability in 119,000 patients.
Both illnesses have one strong characteristic in common: Normally, the immune cells defend the body against infection. In people with IBD, however, the immune system mistakes bacteria, food, and other materials in the intestine for foreign substances, attacking the lining of the intestine.
The body then sends white blood cells into the intestinal lining where their presence results in chronic inflammation. When this occurs, the patient experiences the symptoms of IBD.
Crohn’s Disease: Symptoms & Diagnosis
Crohn’s disease can assault any portion of the digestive tract, although inflammation is most commonly found in the lower portion of the small intestine, known as the ileum. This causes cramping in the right lower side of the abdomen, particularly after meals.
Other symptoms include persistent diarrhea (painful, loose, watery, or frequent bowel movements), weight loss, poor appetite, rectal bleeding, and fever. However, the disease is not always located exclusively in the gastrointestinal tract. It can also affect the liver, eyes, skin, and joints.
Fatigue is a common complaint, since malabsorption leads to a shortage of calories, proteins, and nutrients (vitamin B12, folic acid, and iron). It has now been determined that Crohn’s patients have an increased risk of colon cancer.
Diagnosis of Crohn’s disease is usually based on a patient’s symptoms and medical history. Diagnostic tests can be used to confirm the disease and to distinguish it from ulcerative colitis. Such tests include x-rays (with contrast material such as barium), endoscopy, and colonoscopy.
Conventional treatments for IBD depend on disease location, complications, severity, and response to prior treatments. Medical therapy may include spinal adjustments, deep tissue , and other non-invasive procedures.
The major groups of drugs for Crohn’s disease are immune modifiers, steroids, aminosalicylates, and antibiotics – each with the potential for undesirable long-term side effects.
Unless significant lifestyle modifications occur, up to 75% of patients with Crohn’s disease and 25% of those with ulcerative colitis will need surgery.