Inflammatory bowel disease is also known as ulcerative colitis. It is a long term chronic inflammation and ulceration of the lining of the large intestine. Known also as IBD, it should never be confused with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) which is a sensitive bowel that reacts to some foods and diets.
IBD is a chronic problem and can often lead to hospitalisation. The cause is generally unknown but it is suggested that it may be a defect in the body’s immune system. This has lead to the use of TNF blockers as treatments.
Evidence suggests that diet and food allergies do not cause IBD and generally long term special diets are not effective in treating IBD. However the diet can be adjusted to manage some of the symptoms and help the medications work better.
It is the Inflammation of the large bowel and colon in IBD that impairs water absorption and hence watery diarrhoea. Often the bowel is inflamed and sore to touch and there is discomfort when passing a motion. On occasions an IBD patient can present with a “Toxic Megacolon” where there can be fever with swing temperature, abdominal bloating and an increased heart rate.
The chronic nature of IBD means outbreaks can be frequent. One of the first signs of an outbreak of a toxic colon is the presence of bloody stools, mucus and pus. Immediate hospitalisation is necessary as a burst bowel can be fatal.
Often people with IBD do need extra nutritional supplements aith Iron, Zinc, Calcium, Folic Acid, Vitamins D,B12 and C along with other electrolytes. Dietary changes that help manage some IBD symptoms include a low fibre diet, a low fat diet and a low lactose diet.
Other complications can occur with IBD that may include painful inflammation of the fingers, hands, feet, ankles and knees. Also problems can occur in the spine and with the skin.<h4>Treatments</h4>Treatments can include preventive anti-inflammatory medications, TNF blockers, treatment with antibiotics with flare ups and in severe cases surgery. While there is no cure for ulcerative colitis the symptoms can be managed with medication and reduced stress.