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IBD is a chronic medical condition that can cause serious and even life-threatening complications without proper management. There are two primary types of inflammatory bowel disease:
ulcerative colitis, which causes inflammation, ulcers (sores) and changes to the lining of the colon and rectum
Crohn's disease, which can cause inflammation and other permanent changes anywhere in the digestive tract and which primarily affects the deeper tissues
Lymphocytic colitis and collagenous colitis are two other types of IBD which are far less common.
IBD can cause an array of symptoms, depending on the extent of the inflammation or ulcerations and the area that's being affected by the disease. Some of the most common symptoms include:
bloody stools or bleeding from the rectum
unintentional weight loss
abdominal cramping and pain
nausea and vomiting
Researchers don't know the exact cause, but they believe IBD occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks the healthy tissue of the digestive tract.
No, although IBS can have many of the same symptoms as IBD, it does not cause ulcerations or permanent changes to the tissue of the digestive tract, while IBD does.
IBD is typically diagnosed with a colonoscopy or endoscopy or both, during which tiny tissue samples, or biopsies, will be taken for evaluation under a microscope. Stool samples, blood work and barium x-rays may also be ordered.
IBD can't be cured, but symptoms can be managed with medication to reduce pain and inflammation and control symptoms like diarrhea. In severe cases, surgery may be needed to address significant damage.
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