are two types of chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD):
ulcerative colitis and Crohnís disease. These usually develop
during the teen or young adult years, but a few people have their
first attack (especially of ulcerative colitis) after age 50. These
conditions appear to be associated with an overactive immune
response, although the true cause is not yet known. They can be
severity of an IBD is determined both by the number and gravity of
symptoms and the extent of bowel inflammation.
symptoms of IBD can include chronic diarrhea, abdominal cramps or
pain, fever, and blood or mucus in the stool. The individual may
lose weight and have little desire to eat. Other parts of the body
can be affected when the disease flares up: there can be
inflammation in joints, eyes, or skin, for example.
types of colitis can occur in older people and can be mistaken for
one of the chronic IBDs. These include infectious colitis caused by
overgrowth of bacteria or occurring as an adverse effect of
chemotherapy for cancer, or colitis resulting from the use of
nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin. Also common in
the elderly is ischemic colitis, caused by low blood flow to the
doctor will determine if an individual has an IBD with a physical
examination and various tests, including a stool sample, blood
tests, and sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy, during which a tube with a
small camera is inserted into the rectum to allow assessment of the
bowel inflammation. X-rays may also be required.
the diagnosis has been confirmed, a physician will prescribe an IBD
treatment regimen based on the personís symptoms. It may include:
of these drugs may have to be taken permanently to ensure the
disease is held in check.
patients with an IBD undergo surgery during which part of their
diseased bowel is removed. If a large portion of bowel must be
removed, the person may require an ileostomy, in which a new outlet
for waste is created in the abdominal wall. However, new surgical
techniques that avoid this necessity are sometimes possible.