What is Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)?

women holding her stomach

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a chronic condition that affects millions of individuals in the United States. IBD encompasses two conditions: Crohn's Disease and ulcerative colitis. Both conditions are characterized by chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, which can be debilitating and sometimes leads to life-threatening complications. Additional information can be found at LivingWithIBD.com.

What causes IBD?

While the cause of IBD is unknown, it’s clear that the immune system plays a major role. A healthy immune system should attack foreign organisms, such as viruses and bacteria, to protect your body. But in IBD, the immune system responds incorrectly to environmental triggers, which causes the inflammation in our GI tract. This response is influenced by our intestinal flora, environmental trigger, and certain genetic predispositions.

What are the Symptoms of IBD?

IBD is an ongoing problem that causes inflammation and swelling in the digestive tract. It is often difficult to diagnose which form of IBD a patient is suffering from because both Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis cause similar symptoms.

Symptoms related to inflammation of the GI tract:

  • Diarrhea
  • 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:

  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight Loss
  • Fatigue
  • Night sweats
  • Loss of normal menstrual cycle

What is the Treatment for IBD?

Currently, there is no known cure for IBD, but doctors use a multimodal approach to reducing inflammation that triggers symptoms. Treatments can include drug therapy, lifestyle and diet modifications, and surgery. In severe IBD cases, surgery may be recommended to remove damaged portions of the GI tract. Reminder, IBD is a broad term that includes ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, and both conditions affect different parts of the GI tracts. As a result, surgical procedures may differ.

Have questions about inflammatory bowel disease?

Schedule an Appointment

Prevention & Treatment

Infusion Therapy

In-office IV Infusion treatment for patients. Learn more about this procedure and schedule an appointment with a Gastro Health physician at a convenient location.

Learn More


A colonoscopy is a medical procedure that uses a lighted, flexible colonoscope to examine the inside of the entire large intestine (colon) and rectum.

Learn More

Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

A visual examination of the lower third of the large colon using a short, thin, flexible, lighted tube. Learn more about this procedure and schedule an appointment with a Gastro Health physician at a convenient location.

Learn More