Diagnosis, treatment, and support for inflammatory bowel disease or IBD

Inflammatory Bowel Disease refers to a group of conditions in which an abnormal immune response leads to chronic, relapsing inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis are the two most common diseases in which this occurs.  Although both diseases have similarities, it is important to distinguish between the two, because the appropriate surgical treatment, if needed, depends on accurately diagnosing which disease is causing the underlying inflammation.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease is often confused with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) due to the similar names. IBS or “spastic colon” is not an inflammatory disorder but rather a disorder relating to the bowel’s function, which may lead to either bouts of Diarrhea or Constipation.  IBS can be differentiated from Inflammatory Bowel Disease by its lack of bowel inflammation and the two disease groups are not related or treated the same way.

Symptoms

The onset of Inflammatory Bowel Disease in the majority of patients occurs between the ages of 15 and 30. In about 10% of patients, these symptoms present before the age of 18. People with Inflammatory Bowel Disease may notice a progressive loosening of the stool, followed by intermittent and severe flare-ups of Abdominal Pain. Additional symptoms may vary from person to person and include:

Types of Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease are the two main forms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease. They are both conditions characterized by chronic inflammation of the digestive tract. Although they share many similarities, there are key differences between the two diseases.

Similarities

  • Both diseases often develop in teenagers and young adults although the disease can occur at any age
  • Both affect men and women equally
  • The symptoms are very similar
  • The causes of both are not known
  • Both diseases have similar types of contributing factors such as environmental, genetic and an inappropriate response by the body’s immune system.

Differences

  • Ulcerative Colitis is limited to the colon while Crohn’s Disease can occur anywhere between the mouth and the anus.
  • In Crohn’s Disease, there are healthy parts of the intestine mixed in between inflamed areas. Ulcerative Colitis, on the other hand, is continuous inflammation of the colon.
  • Ulcerative Colitis only affects the inner most lining of the colon while Crohn’s Disease can occur in all layers of the bowel wall.

Diagnostic Testing

To accurately diagnose Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Dr. Ranvir Singh, Dr. Stephen Rashbaum, or Dr. Nitin J. Parikh may conduct a variety of tests including:

Treatment

When inflammatory damage of the intestinal tract leads to severe pain, reduced nutrient uptake, perforation of the intestinal lining, or bowel obstruction, surgery is often necessary. Patients with Crohn’s disease, which affects all layers and regions of the intestinal tract, are at a higher risk for surgery. Individuals with Ulcerative Colitis are comparatively less likely to require surgery at some point in their lives.

Medication

Medications are an important part of relieving symptoms. Medications affect people differently, and no one medication or combination of medications will work for everyone with IBD. Working with Dr. Ranvir Singh, Dr. Stephen Rashbaum, or Dr. Nitin J. Parikh will help you find the best combination of medicine, diet, counseling, and support to control symptoms.

Antibiotics and
Anti-inflammatory Drugs
Immune System Suppressors Other Medication
Aminosalicylates  Azathioprine and Mercaptopurine Diarrhea Medication
 Corticosteroids  Cyclosporine Pain Relievers
 Metronidazole  Infliximab, Adalimumab, Golimumab Iron Supplements
 Ciprofloxacin  Methotrexate Vitamin B-12 Shot
 Fish Oil  Natalizumab, Vedolizumab Calcium
 Aloe Vera  Ustekinumab Vitamin D Supplement

Surgery

use a variety of surgical procedures to resolve painful symptoms and complications of Inflammatory Bowel Disease. The following procedures are performed depending on the location and type of inflammatory damage in the intestinal tract:

  • Segmental Resection: Removal of a portion of the small intestine.
  • Colectomy: (large bowel resection) Removal of a portion of the colon or rectum.
  • Strictureplasty: Widening of a narrowed or obstructed segment of intestine.

Dietary Guidelines

For many people, careful eating reduces IBD symptoms. Before changing your diet, keep a journal noting the foods that seem to cause distress. Then discuss these findings with Dr. Ranvir Singh, Dr. Stephen Rashbaum, or Dr. Nitin J. Parikh. For instance, if dairy products cause symptoms to flare up, try eating less of those foods. You might be able to tolerate yogurt better than other dairy products because it contains bacteria that supply the enzyme needed to digest lactose, the sugar found in milk products. Dairy products are an important source of calcium and other nutrients. If you need to avoid dairy products, adequate nutrients should be added in foods or supplements should be taken.

  • Limit dairy products
  • Eat low-fat food
  • Eat small meals
  • Drink plenty of liquids
  • Take a multivitamin
  • Avoid chewing gum and eating too quickly
  • Avoid over eating

Learn more about the recommended IBD diet.


Board certified physicians  Dr. Singh, Dr. Rashbaum, Dr. Nitin Parikh, Dr. Sumana Moole, Dr. Long B. Nguyen, Tammi D’Elena, PA-C; and Vanessa T. Dang, MSN, APRN;   care for patients in the North Atlanta, GA; area including Johns Creek, Alpharetta, Lawrenceville, and Cumming, GA. The In-House Endoscopy Suite at Digestive Care Physicians is a certified facility which has achieved the highest level of accreditation by the Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC). If you suffer from inflammatory bowel disease or need a colorectal cancer screening, contact us at (770) 227-2222 to schedule an appointment.