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  • Writer's pictureBrian Dooreck MD

What is Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)?

Updated: Jul 27, 2023

Picture this: your stomach cramps up, and you are overwhelmed by an intense burning sensation that sends you flying to the restroom at speeds you didn't know you could. You break out into a sweat, your heart rate spikes, and you find no relief until your trip to the bathroom is, thankfully, over. If this sounds familiar, you may be among 45 million people in the United States suffering from Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).

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Let's talk about it.

What is IBD?

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a chronic condition affecting millions of Americans daily. Two diseases are involved in IBD: Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. Both conditions are characterized by persistent gastrointestinal (GI) tract inflammation, which can be debilitating and often contribute to life-threatening complications.

What's the difference 🤔? Ulcerative colitis is limited to the colon or large intestine. Crohn’s disease can affect any part of the GI tract from the mouth to the anus.

What Causes IBD?

Although the cause of IBD is unclear, it is evident that the immune system plays a significant role. A healthy immune system can destroy foreign species, such as viruses and bacteria, to protect your body. But in IBD, the immune system reacts inappropriately to environmental factors, causing our GI tract to become inflamed. Our intestinal flora, environmental stimuli, and some genetic predispositions influence this reaction.

IBD, Crohn's, UC, gas bloating, health, microbiome, gastrointestinal gi system, see your gastroenterology doctor or gastroenterologist
Not all bacteria are bad. A healthy microbiome is diverse.

What are the Symptoms of IBD?

IBD is an ongoing issue in the digestive tract that causes inflammation and swelling.

Since Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis cause similar symptoms, it is often hard to diagnose which type of IBD a patient suffers from.

Symptoms linked to GI tract inflammation include but are not limited to:

  • Diarrhea

  • Rectal bleeding

  • Abdominal cramps and pain

  • Bowel movement urgency

  • Constipation (can lead to bowel obstruction)

  • The sensation of incomplete evacuation

General symptoms that may also be linked to IBD:

  • Fever

  • Loss of appetite

  • Weight Loss

  • Fatigue

  • Night sweats

  • Loss of normal menstrual cycle

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How is IBD treated?

There is currently no proven treatment for IBD, but a multimodal approach to minimizing inflammation that causes symptoms is used by physicians. Drug therapy, lifestyle and diet changes, and surgery are all potential treatment options. Surgery may be recommended in extreme IBD cases to remove damaged parts of the GI tract. Recall IBD is a general term encompassing ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, and various parts of the GI tract are affected by both conditions. Consequently, surgical procedures can vary.

Remember: Prevention is key🔑. Reduce your odds of developing IBD, or manage your symptoms, by maintaining a well balanced diet 🍽 and a healthy lifestyle.

Here is a past post from this blog on IBD.

Check out this short video by the American Gastroenterological Association on living with IBD:


I eat a high-fiber, mostly plant-based 🌱 diet, no red meat, drink 4 liters of water a day, exercise, and am focused on keeping nutrition simple. I am sharing what works for me and what I routinely recommend to my patients.

"Balance. Portion control. Keep nutrition simple. Eat Smart. Eat Healthy. 🌱 🌾 🌿"

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