Gut Health &
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
What is Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is an umbrella term used to describe disorders that involve chronic inflammation of your digestive tract. Types of IBD include:
- Ulcerative Colitis- this condition causes long-lasting inflammation and sores (ulcers) in the innermost lining of your large intestine (Colon) and rectum.
- Crohn’s Disease- this type of IBD is characterized by inflammation of the lining of your digestive tract, which often spreads deep into affected tissues.
Both ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease usually involve severe diarrhea, abdominal pain, fatigue and weight loss.
What are the risk factors for IBD?
- Age: Most people who develop IBD are diagnosed before they're 30 years old. But some people don't develop the disease until their 50s or 60s.
- Race or ethnicity: Although whites have the highest risk of the disease, it can occur in any race. If you're of Ashkenazi Jewish descent, your risk is even higher.
- Family history: You're at higher risk if you have a close relative — such as a parent, sibling or child — with the disease.
- Cigarette smoking: Cigarette smoking is the most important controllable risk factor for developing Crohn's disease. Although smoking may provide some protection against ulcerative colitis, the overall health benefits of not smoking make it important to try to quit.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications: These include ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others), naproxen sodium (Aleve), diclofenac sodium (Voltaren) and others. These medications may increase the risk of developing IBD or worsen disease in people who have IBD.
- Where you live: If you live in an industrialized country, you're more likely to develop IBD. Therefore, it may be that environmental factors, including a diet high in fat or refined foods, play a role. People living in northern climates also seem to be at greater risk.
When to see a doctor
See your doctor if you experience a persistent change in your bowel habits or if you have any of the signs and symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease. Although inflammatory bowel disease usually isn't fatal, it's a serious disease that, in some cases, may cause life-threatening complications.
1. “Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 18 Nov. 2017, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/inflammatory-bowel-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20353315.