Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) consists of Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. IBD is very different from IBS, which stands for Irritable Bowel Syndrome, which you can read about here.
These are chronic inflammatory conditions, meaning they are characterized by episodes of symptoms, alternating with episodes of feeling fine. When people with IBD “feel fine” it means they are in remission – but not “cured” the way you would be of a cold or flu. So it follows that the goal of therapy for people with IBD is to induce remission, and then maintain it for as long as possible.
Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis can be associated with a constellation of symptoms, which means that one person’s Crohn’s Disease may not look anything like the next person’s. Check out these posts to learn more about the symptoms and treatments for Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis.
We know that IBD is caused by inflammation, likely because of something called an autoimmune process. Normally, the body produces a whole bunch of cells and proteins, with various different jobs, including fighting infections and protecting the GI tract from harm. The immune systems of people with IBD react inappropriately to these cells and proteins, mistaking them as foreign invaders rather than helpers. Their bodies then mount a strong reaction to this perceived threat, which can result in damage to the digestive tract, which in turn can lead to symptoms.
What makes one person develop IBD and not another is still unknown.
We know IBD runs in families, but we also know that that’s not the whole story, and just because your parent or sibling has IBD, it doesn’t mean that you will, and vice versa for them if you have it. So our treatments focus more in controlling the inflammation – we don’t have anything that can stop IBD from developing, or predict who is or isn’t going to have it.
IBD can affect anyone, at any age, of any gender, and from any ethnicity. We know that it’s just as common in men as it is in women. IBD is more common in Caucasians and Ashkenazi Jews, but people of other races and backgrounds can develop IBD, too.
Read more about Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis here. The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America has a lot of great info on IBD, including treatment options for Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis.