Irritable bowel disease is the inflammation of the intestines, a disease brought about by the body having an immune reaction to is own tissues in the intestines. This is more of a collective group of disorders that bring about the inflammation than it is a disease on its own. Ulceritis colitis and Crohn’s diseases are the two major types of irritable bowel diseases (IBS) known. Ulceritis colitis is less severe than the Crohn’s disease as it only affects the colon, large intestines and the rectum and occurs when there is continuous stretching of the colon. On the other hand, Crohn’s disease is more complicated as it affects any part of the gastrointestinal tract between the mouth and the anus. However, it is known to affect all or the small intestines or the colon. In some severe cases, it affects both of these regions.
A person suffering from this disease goes through two stages; remission and activity. During its active stage, the patient experiences severe inflammation as well as other symptoms. During remission, there are no symptoms experienced hence the patient lives a normal life.
There is no known cause of irritable bowel disease. For some reason, the body releases an inflammatory reaction to the intestines hence bringing the condition about. This might be triggered by some body agents; bacteria, antigens and viruses. The body’s own tissues can also trigger this disease by causing an auto immune response. Once the bowel disease is triggered, one has no control over it and it spreads very fast.
Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD) is a very painful disease and if left untreated for long, can string along other life threatening ailments. It is mostly identified through some symptoms that rule out simple digestive problems. The disease goes through different stages whereby one encounters stages of severity and mildness. During the onset, one is known to experience a lot of pain but the pain relatively reduces over time and one returns to normal health. The symptoms can be felt in different parts of the digestive tract depending on the affected area. However, there are some specific symptoms that can help one identify the disease.
(a) Abdominal pain
This is one of the initial symptoms. The belly becomes very sore and sensitive to touch and one experiences some cramping which can be very severe. The tummy ache ranges from severe to manageable depending on the stage and type of the bowel disease.
Among all the other symptoms, the patient is bound to experience fever which come and go from time to time. This is uncontrollable and can be very uncomfortable. When the disease is most painful, the temperature tends to be very high and uncontrollable. When the disease gets to its remission stage, the fever disappears and temperature gets back to normal.
(d) Weight loss
This is mostly brought about by the lack of appetite and the inability of the body to properly digest and contain food for the benefit of the body. This is why patients are highly advised to gradually go back to healthy eating in order to get their body back to normal. Dehydration due to diarrhea is also a great contributor to weight loss.
The patient might also experience some frequent diarrhea with blood in it. This is as a result of the disturbance of the intestines which interferes with its normal functioning. One might also be forced to go to the bathroom more than 10 times in a day which might lead to severe dehydration. At times this might be uncontrollable and constant which gets out of control.
This might be brought about by the blood in the stool and the interruptions of food digestion and nutrients utilization in the digestive tract. Lack of appetite which leads to poor feeding habits might also cause anemia.
(g) Rectal bleeding/pain
The blood on the stool might also be brought about by a tear in the rectal area. The area might also be inflamed by the constant diarrhea which is likely cause a lot of pain. This also comes with an urgent need for one to empty their bowel.
There are several ways that irritable bowel disease can be diagnosed however, doctor will run the tests depending on the symptoms experienced. Some of the most effective ways of diagnosing the problem includes;
(a) Stool exam to rule out other causes that might be causing the diarrhea, blood count to check for an increase in white blood cells to signify inflammation and a decrease in red blood cells to show low blood count
(b) Sigmoidoscopy to examine the large intestine, x-ray to show abnormalities brought about by Crohn’s disease
(c) Colonoscopy and upper endoscopy to examine the first part of the small intestines for ulcerations brought about by Crohn’s disease.
1. Lifestyle adjustments
Better feeding habits are a great way of managing the disease depending on the symptoms. Eating food in small portions is better than big portions. In the case where one is experiencing some diarrhea, drinking plenty of fluids especially water is highly advisable in order to restore the lost fluids. Avoiding spicy food when diarrhea is involved is also advisable to avoid inflammation of the rectal area. Spicy food might also make thee intestinal inflammation worse and even trigger ulcers. Reducing stress is also advisable as it might make the symptoms worse than they could be when you’re relaxed.
2. Medical attention
The doctor will try to initially focus on reducing the inflammation which in turn reduces other symptoms. This is done because the disease is triggered by the inflammation of the intestines hence dealing with it eases any other complication that might have been brought about as a result.
When the bowel disease gets out of hand, surgery might be the way to go. This is mostly the case for instances whereby the disease has gone on for a long time and the symptoms become severe.
Irritable bowel disease is a manageable disease if diagnosed and treated during its early stages before getting out of hand. If left to go on for a long time without treatment, one is likely to experience; extreme intestinal bleeding brought about by the ulcers, bowel rupture, fistula and extreme dilation of the colon. These extreme conditions require surgery and can be life threatening.