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The Risk Factors, Diagnosis, and Treatment for Irritable Bowel Disease

Inflammatory bowel disease is a collective term used to describe two chronic conditions – Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, which affects up to 1.3% of the adult population in the United States. Both conditions involve inflammation of the digestive tract but vary in intensity depending on the type of IBD you may have. The symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease in San Antonio, such as diarrhea, fatigue, and abdominal pain, range from mild to severe and may interfere with your day-to-day activities. It is essential to seek medical attention from your doctor as IBD may lead to life-threatening complications, including colon cancer.

What causes Irritable Bowel Disease?

There is no established cause for irritable bowel disease. However, factors such as stress and diet may flare up the existing condition. While IBD affects men and women equally, certain factors increase your risk of having this condition, for example:

  • Family history. Your risk of developing irritable bowel disease is higher if you have a close relative, parent or sibling, living with the disease.
  • Race. White people have a higher chance of having IBD. However, people of different ethnicities may also develop this condition.
  • Smoking. People who smoke cigarettes have higher chances of developing Crohn’s disease. Your doctor may advise that you quit smoking to improve your general health.
  • Anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen and naproxen sodium may put you at risk of IBD and aggravate the symptoms in patients with this condition.

How is irritable bowel disease diagnosed?

Before diagnosis, your doctor will rule out other conditions such as celiac disease and diverticulitis that may mimic irritable bowel disease. Diagnosis for IBD may include lab tests to check for anemia and signs of infection from bacteria or viruses. Your doctor may also use endoscopic procedures to examine the entire colon and check for any abnormalities. An example of these endoscopic procedures include:

Colonoscopy. The most effective diagnostic method for IBD is a colonoscopy, as it allows your doctor to view your colon and the terminal ileum. During this test, your specialist uses a narrow, flexible tube with a camera at the end. Your doctor may also conduct a biopsy to differentiate between Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. A biopsy may also help your specialist to rule out minor inflammatory disorders of the bowel.

Treatment for irritable bowel disease

There are various treatment methods for IBD, including medications, nutritional support, and surgery designed to reduce inflammation that triggers the symptoms.  The use of anti-inflammatory drugs is the first step used in treating mild inflammatory bowel disease. Medications such as corticosteroids and aminosalicylates may minimize inflammation. Your doctor may recommend that you take corticosteroids when you experience flares. You can take these drugs orally, or your doctor may administer them by injection. If your symptoms persist, your specialist may recommend other medications such as biologics and immune system suppressors. In some cases, patients fail to respond to conservative treatment and may require surgery to improve this condition.

Because of the relapsing nature of IBD, your specialist may recommend lifestyle changes such as maintaining a low-residue diet to help you deal with the flares. To learn more about living with IBD, reserve a session with your specialist at Digestive & Liver Disease Center of San Antonio PLLC.

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