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April 15, 2021 Thursday 10:48:46 AM IST

Care for your Gut

Health Monitor

The term inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) covers a group of disorders in which the intestines become inflamed (red and swollen), probably as a result of an immune reaction of the body against its own intestinal tissue.

What are the types of IBD?
Two major types of IBD are
-Ulcerative Colitis (UC).
-Crohn’s Disease (CD).

Ulcerative Colitis (UC)
(Ulcer-An ulcer is a sore, which means it's an open, painful wound)
1. Inflammation occurs only in the large intestine (colon)
2. Inflammation is limited to the inner lining of the intestinal wall
3. The inflammation starts in the lowest part of the colon
(rectum) & extends upwards in a continuous pattern

Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis

A most common symptom of ulcerative colitis is abdominal pain and bloody diarrhea. Patients may also experience fatigue, loss of appetite, loss of body fluids and nutrients, loss of appetite, loss of body fluids & nutrients, frequent fever, weight loss, and rectal bleeding.

Crohn's disease
1. Inflammation occurs in any part of the intestinal tract from the mouth to the anal area.
2. All layers of the Intestinal wall can be involved which may lead to particular complications.
3. The inflammation is mainly in patches either in the small intestine and /or in the colon.

Symptoms of Crohn's Disease
Mainly depend on what part of the digestive system is affected. CD mainly occurs in the last part of the small intestine (ileum) and in the nearby part of the colon, the most common symptoms are pain and tenderness especially in the lower right side of the abdomen, and diarrhea.
Other less frequent signs include: Weight loss, anemia, constipation, low-grade fever, slowed growth & delayed sexual development, and rectal bleeding in children.

What are the causes of IBD?
The exact cause of IBD is not known, research shows that the immune system in the intestine overreacts and causes a strong & long-lasting response leading to inflammation & ulceration in the lining of the intestine. Contrary to popular belief, neither stress nor specific foods actually cause IBD, but both stress & certain foods can aggravate the GI symptoms.

Is there a cure for IBD?
A few people show complete recovery after the first attack. Others must learn to live with their disease. Most people respond well to treatment and have long, normal periods with few or no problems between attacks.

How is the diagnosis of IBD made?
The initial part of the evaluation of a patient with the above symptoms includes a full medical history and physical examination.
One or more following tests may be advised: Blood Test, special X-rays, endoscopy & biopsy, stool test.
Endoscopy: In this procedure, a narrow tube with a light is passed through the mouth to look inside the stomach & intestine.
Colonoscopy: In this procedure, a narrow tube with a light is passed through the anus to look inside the colon.

IBD & Diet
Diet is not the cause of IBD nor is it the cure, there's no firm causative relation between diet and inflammatory bowel disease. But certain food and beverages can aggravate your signs and symptoms, especially during a flare-up in your condition. There is no one single diet or eating plan that will do the trick for everyone with IBD. Dietary recommendations must be individualized.

Things to do
-Learn your own body's signals. No one else can do it for you. If your body cannot tolerate something more than twice, try to avoid it the next time.
-Eat enough to maintain your weight.
-Eat a healthy diet that does not add to gastrointestinal distress.
-Eat small meals- You may find you feel better eating five or six small meals rather than two or three larger ones.
-Drink plenty of fluids- Try to drink plenty of fluids daily.
-Exercise: Even mild exercise can help reduce stress, relieve depression and normalize bowel function.
-Regular yoga & medication- These all can be effective ways to relieve stress. One can take classes in yoga and meditation or practice at home using books or video films.
-Other techniques - Set aside at least 20 minutes a day for any activity you find relaxing – listening to music, reading, etc.

Thing to avoid
-High Fibre Diet- May cause diarrhea, pain, and gas.
-Avoid problem foods- Eliminate foods like spicy foods, popcorn, alcohol, caffeine, Chocolate, and soda that seem to make symptoms worse.

Dr Rosh Varghese

Senior Consultant, Gastroenterology, Rajagiri Hospital, Kochi. Read more articles..