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Your Questions About Inflammatory Bowel Disease Answered

Get the information you need to alleviate your condition.

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a collection of chronic diseases, including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, most often characterized by diarrhea and abdominal pain. There’s no cure for IBD, but those living with the condition can alleviate symptoms by taking certain medications, making simple lifestyle changes, keeping stress levels under control, and, when necessary, undergoing surgery.

Here, we answer the most common questions about IBD, treatment and how it affects one’s life.

Q: What is inflammatory bowel disease?
A: Inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD, is a group of conditions that causes inflammation in the bowels.

Learn more about inflammatory bowel disease. 

Q: What are the symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)?
A: Symptoms differ from person-to-person, but diarrhea and blood in the stool are just a few symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease.

Learn more about the symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease.

Q: Who gets inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)?
A: Although inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) can occur in any group of people, it is more common among people who have a family member with IBD; Jewish people of European descent; white people; people who live in cities; and people who live in developed countries.

Smoking also seems to affect a person's risk of getting IBD. People who smoke are more likely to develop Crohn's disease, but less likely to develop ulcerative colitis.

Learn more about the people who are more susceptible to developing IBD.

Q: How does irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) differ from IBD?
A: In irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammation and other abnormalities in the digestive tract are not present, or at least do not show up on medical tests. However, inflammation is found in several important disorders called inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). 

Learn more about the differences between IBS and IBD.

Q: How is inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) diagnosed?
A: If you think you have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), talk to your doctor. She or he will use your health history, a physical exam and different tests to figure out if you have IBD and, if so, which type.

Learn more about the specific types of tests used to diagnose IBD.

Q: Can inflammatory bowel disease be cured?
A: Inflammatory bowel disease is a chronic condition. Unfortunately, there's currently no cure, so medications and monitoring are needed in the long term. Healthcare maintenance to make sure the rest of your body is in good health is very important as part of the management of inflammatory bowel disease.

Learn more about lifestyle changes you can make to manage IBD.

Q: What is Crohn’s disease?
A: Crohn’s disease, also known as inflammatory bowel disease, is a chronic autoimmune disease, meaning the immune system attacks the body’s own cells. Although it can occur in any part of the gastrointestinal tract, the condition usually occurs in the ileum, which is the part of the gastrointestinal tract where the small and large intestines meet.

Learn more about the defining characteristics of Crohn’s disease.

Q: What are the different types of Crohn's disease?
A: There are five different types of Crohn's disease, depending on location. By far, the most common location for Crohn's disease is in the terminal ileum (the last part of the small bowel).

Learn more about the specific types of Crohn’s disease.

Q: What is the difference between ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease?
A: Both are inflammatory conditions of the digestive tract. Ulcerative colitis is limited to the colon and Crohn's disease can involve anywhere from the mouth to the colon.

Learn more about the differences between Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis.

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