Diarrhea, Fatigue, and Weight Loss… Oh My!
Symptoms of IBD are no fun. IBD stands for inflammatory bowel disease and it involves chronic inflammation of all or part of your digestive tract. Two primary conditions we see patients for are ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Symptoms of both are usually severe diarrhea, pain, fatigue, and weight loss.
Risk factors for IBD include:
• Age (most are diagnosed under age 30
• Race or ethnicity (highest risk among whites and Ashkenazi Jewish descent)
• Family history
• Cigarette smoking
• Isotretinoin use (Accutane – used to treat acne)
• Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (ibuprofen, Aleve, etc.)
• Where you live (high risk in urban areas/industrialized countries)
Ulcerative colitis causes long-lasting inflammation and sores, or ulcers, in the innermost lining of your colon and rectum. Crohn’s disease causes inflammation of the digestive tract lining and this inflammation often spreads deep into affected tissues. Common symptoms of both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative include encompass diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain and cramping, blood in stool, loss of appetite, and unintended weight loss.
What causes inflammatory bowel disease? Unfortunately the exact cause remains unknown. One possibility is an immune system malfunction. When a virus or bacterium is being fought off by your immune system, an abnormal response would cause the immune system to also attack the cells in the digestive tract. Stress is also known to aggravate symptoms. If you are wondering at what point you should see a doctor, do so if you see a fierce change in your bowel habits of if you exhibit any known IBD symptoms. Do not put off getting medical attention if you have IBD; it is unlikely to be fatal, but it is a serious disease that can cause life-threatening complications.
If you missed Dr. Marcum Gillis covering this topic on radio station WSJS Wednesday, June 15th, click here to check it out!