The process of breaking down the foods we eat takes a lot of work, and to accomplish this we have a digestive tract that is around 30 feet long from the point food enters the mouth and exits through the anus. Most of that length is taken up by your intestines, where the small intestine alone measures up to around 25 feet by itself. The food you eat is processed in these two areas of your digestive tract through a series of smooth muscle, mucosal folds, and villi (tiny projections located in the inner wall) that absorb waste material from the food and turn what’s left into the stool.
Inflammatory bowel disease, commonly known as IBD, is the general term for diseases that affect this area of your digestive system, leading to rather unpleasant symptoms and left unchecked, can cause complications that endanger your health. Proper management of this condition can help to lower your chances of worse issues in the future, so let’s examine more about IBD, its complications, and what you can do to prevent them.
If you live in the Austin, Texas area, and you’re dealing with digestive distress related to IBD or other problems, Dr. Rajesh Mehta and his team at LoneStar Gastroenterology can help.
This term covers a group of intestinal disorders that cause chronic pain and swelling in the large or small intestine. It affects as many as 3 million Americans and most often happens between ages 15-30. Here are the conditions most commonly associated with IBD:
Researchers are still looking into the cause of this cluster of illnesses, but common factors include family history, environmental triggers, and abnormal immune system responses. There are several typical signs of these conditions, such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, gas, bloating, loss of appetite, weight loss, upset stomach, blood or mucus in stool, and in rare cases joint pain, fever, fatigue, nausea, and vomiting.
Without proper management of IBD, it can lead to a lot of damage in the form of conditions like:
Loss of appetite and unexplained weight loss can lead to becoming malnourished, which can cause a lot of other problems throughout your body.
Both ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease lead to an increased risk of colorectal cancer, which is the third leading cause of cancer death.
Also known as a gastrointestinal fistula, these are tunnels that go through the wall of your bowels, and create holes in parts of your digestive tract.
This is an intestinal rupture caused by IBD and other gastrointestinal conditions that create a hole all the way through a part of your digestive system.
IBD can lead to blockages in your intestines, causing obstructions and making moving food through the body that much more difficult.
There are steps that can help reduce the risk of complications, depending on the specific IBD illness, such as taking the prescribed medications, cleaning the anal area regularly, taking pain medications if necessary, getting rest, staying hydrated, and reducing stress. A diet filled with grains, fruits, and vegetables, with plenty of water, and avoiding carbonated drinks, high-fiber foods, and foods high in fat can help during flare-ups. Keeping a record of what you eat and eliminating things that trigger outbreaks can also help. There are also a range of vitamin supplements to help you stay nourished.
IBD may come and go, but when you’re struggling with it, you need to make sure it doesn’t get any worse. Make an appointment with Dr. Mehta and LoneStar Gastroenterology today to find the treatments that will help you cope with IBD.