Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is swelling and irritation of the intestines (bowel). Two forms of IBD are:
IBD is a lifelong illness.
The exact cause is not known. It is the result of a problem with the immune system. Genetics may also play a role.
Things that may raise the risk of this problem are:
Symptoms may happen all the time or they may come and go. Symptoms depend on the type of IBD, but common problems are:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. Blood and stool tests may also be done.
Images may need to be taken. This can be done with:
A colonoscopy may be done. A long, flexible tube will be inserted through the rectum to inspect the intestines.
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There is no cure. The goal of treatment is to manage symptoms. Choices are:
Dietary changes may include switching to a diet that is:
Medicines may be given, such as:
Surgery is not helpful for all types of IBD. People with severe ulcerative colitis may need surgery to remove the colon.
There are no current guidelines to prevent this health problem.
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
College of Family Physicians of Canada
Crohn disease in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/crohn-disease-in-adults. Accessed February 10, 2021.
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/ibd. Accessed February 10, 2021.
Lichtenstein GR, Loftus EV, et al. ACG Clinical Guideline: Management of Crohn's Disease in Adults. Am J Gastroenterol. 2018 Apr;113(4):481-517.
Ulcerative colitis in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/ulcerative-colitis-in-adults. Accessed February 10, 2021.
Last reviewed December 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board
James P. Cornell, MD
Last Updated: 2/10/2021