• Gastroenterology

    Mayo Clinic Minute: What is inflammatory bowel disease?

May 19 is World Inflammatory Bowel Disease Day. There are more than 10 million people worldwide living with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), according to the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation.

IBD is a chronic condition that causes inflammation in the digestive tract, but it can also affect other areas of the body.

Dr. Victor Chedid, a Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist, explains further what IBD is and how symptoms can be managed.

Watch: The Mayo Clinic Minute

Journalists: Broadcast-quality video (1:02) is in the downloads at the end of this post. Please courtesy: "Mayo Clinic News Network." Read the script.

People often associate IBD with the bathroom because of its symptoms, but it's a serious and chronic condition. There are two main types of IBD: Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.

"Ulcerative colitis only impacts the colon and causes inflammation in the entire colon, while Crohn's disease can impact anywhere from the mouth to the anus," says Dr. Chedid.

a young child, perhaps a girl, holding her stomach because it aches and hurts
Young girl experiencing stomach pain.

Patients often experience diarrhea, rectal bleeding, fatigue, weight loss, and stomach and joint pain.

"Some patients might develop what we call extraintestinal manifestations of their inflammatory bowel disease. And these can impact other organs. That means organs that are beyond the intestines," explains Dr. Chedid.

There is no cure and no exact cause for IBD, but there are medications to reduce inflammation. Also, watching what you eat can help alleviate some symptoms.

"We have to have a focus on diets that are high in anti-inflammatory foods and antioxidants, and low in foods that are processed that can be proinflammatory, says Dr. Chedid.

Treatments to manage inflammatory bowel disease

  • Anti-inflammatory drugs.
  • Immune system suppressors.
  • Biologics.
  • Antibiotics.
  • Nutrition therapy.
  • Surgery.

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