Comprehensive Inflammatory Bowel Disease Services at Drexel Gastroenterology
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a broad term for a group of inflammatory conditions that affect the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
The two most common inflammatory bowel diseases are Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Both conditions can lead to severe weight loss, fatigue and weakness if left untreated. Inflammation and swelling along the GI tract can lead to pain and discomfort, among several other complications.
Nearly 1.6 million Americans suffer from IBD. In fact, there are 70,000 new cases diagnosed each year. Although IBD can occur at any age, people are more frequently diagnosed around ages 20 and 50. While there is no cure for IBD yet, it can be treated and quality of life can be dramatically improved.
To make an appointment with an IBD specialist at Drexel Gastroenterology, please call 215.762.6220.
Crohn's and Ulcerative Colitis
Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are very similar conditions. The main difference between the two is the areas of the digestive tract they affect.
Crohn's disease can cause ulcers anywhere from mouth to rectum. Areas most often affected are the end of the small intestine and the beginning of the large intestine. Ulcers caused by Crohn's disease can occur in all layers of the bowel walls and typically form in clusters.
Ulcerative colitis causes inflammation or ulcers that are confined to the large intestine, or the lower part of your intestinal tract. Ulcers caused by ulcerative colitis affect the inner most lining of the colon and typically form in an even distribution.
IBD Signs and Symptoms
Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis may share some of the same signs and symptoms. The hallmark of ulcerative colitis is bloody diarrhea whereas in Crohn's the diarrhea is not as likely to be bloody. If you experience any signs of inflammation or other symptoms that are generally associated with IBD, you should see a gastroenterologist who can provide additional diagnostic testing to determine which disease you have.
Symptoms that may indicate inflammation of the GI tract:
- Rectal bleeding
- Urgent need to move bowels
- Abdominal cramps and pain
- Sensation of incomplete evacuation
- Constipation (can lead to bowel obstruction)
General symptoms that may also be associated with IBD:
- Loss of appetite
- Night sweats
- Loss of normal menstrual cycle
IBD Risk Factors
The exact cause of IBD is not known, but research indicates a combination of genes and environmental exposures are likely to blame. Some of the leading risk factors associated with IBD include:
- Family history
- Where you live (urban areas and northern climates seem to pose greater risk)
Drexel Gastroenterology takes a multidisciplinary approach to treating IBD. From diagnosis to treatment and ongoing disease management, our team helps patients at every stage. Our gastroenterologists work closely with surgeons, nutritionists, and many other specialists within the Drexel Medicine network to ensure patients get the best care possible.
Learn more about our team approach.
The information on these pages is provided for general information only and should not be used for diagnosis or treatment, or as a substitute for consultation with a physician or health care professional. If you have specific questions or concerns about your health, you should consult your health care professional.
The images being used are for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted is a model.
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