Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
(Intestinal Problems of IBD)

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Intestinal bowel disease facts

  • The inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) are Crohn's disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC). The intestinal complications of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis differ because of the characteristically dissimilar behaviors of the intestinal inflammation in these two diseases.
  • The intestinal complications of IBD are caused by intestinal inflammation that is severe, widespread, chronic, and/or extends beyond the inner lining (mucosa) of the intestines.
  • While ulcerative colitis involves only the large intestine (colon), Crohn's disease occurs throughout the gastrointestinal tract, although most commonly in the lower part of the small bowel (ileum).
  • Intestinal ulceration and bleeding are complications of severe mucosal inflammation in both ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease.
  • Intestinal inflammation in Crohn's disease involves the entire thickness of the bowel wall, whereas the inflammation in ulcerative colitis is confined to the inner lining. Accordingly, complications such as intestinal strictures, fistulas, and fissures are far more common in Crohn's disease than in ulcerative colitis.
  • Intestinal strictures and fistulas do not always cause symptoms. Strictures, therefore, may not require treatment unless they cause significant intestinal blockage. Likewise, fistulas may not require treatment unless they cause significant abdominal pain, infection, external drainage, or bypass of intestinal segments.
  • Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) in Crohn's disease can result from an intestinal stricture, is diagnosed by a hydrogen breath test, and is treated with antibiotics.
  • Because of an increased risk of colon cancer in ulcerative colitis, yearly monitoring with colonoscopies and biopsies of the colon for premalignant cells (dysplasia) and cancer is recommended for patients after 8 to10 years of chronic inflammation of the colon (colitis).
  • Narcotics, codeine, and anti-diarrheal medications such as Lomotil and Imodium should be avoided during severe episodes of colitis because they might induce a toxic megacolon.
  • In Crohn's disease of the duodenum and jejunum, malabsorption of nutrients can cause malnutrition, weight loss, and diarrhea, whereas in Crohn's disease of the ileum, malabsorption of bile salts can cause diarrhea and malabsorption of vitamin B12 can lead to anemia.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/8/2014

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IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) and Diet

Is There A Special Diet for Individuals With IBD?

No special eating plan has been proven effective for treating inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). But for some people, changing the foods they eat may help control the symptoms of IBD.

There are no blanket food rules. Changes that help one person with IBD may not relieve symptoms in another. Talk to your doctor and maybe a dietitian about which foods you should and should not be eating. Their suggestions will depend on the part of your intestine that is affected and which disease you have.

Your doctor may suggest some of the following changes:

  • Taking specific nutritional supplements, including possibly vitamin and mineral supplements
  • Avoiding greasy or fried foods
  • Avoiding cream sauces and meat products
  • Avoiding spicy foods
  • Avoiding foods high in fiber, such as nuts and raw fruits and vegetables
  • Eating smaller, more frequent meals

Even though you may have to limit certain foods, you should still aim to eat meals that give you all the nutrients you need.

SOURCE: womenshealth.gov. Inflammatory Bowel Disease.