Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a condition that causes ongoing inflammation of the intestines. The condition can affect only the large intestine (ulcerative colitis) or any part of the entire digestive tract, from the mouth to the anus (Crohn's disease).
Symptoms may include belly pain, frequent diarrhea that may contain blood or pus, fever, chills, weight loss, and fatigue. Symptoms may be mild, moderate, or severe. The inflammation can also affect other parts of the body, such as the eyes or joints, and may cause a form of arthritis.
IBD may recur many times in a person's life. It is treated with medicines and sometimes with diet changes. If the disease is in remission (not causing symptoms), treatment may not be needed, although medicines may help keep the disease in remission. A severe attack may require that the person be hospitalized for treatment. In some cases, surgery may be needed.
IBD increases the risk of colon cancer, so cancer screening is important. The level of risk depends on the type of IBD you have and how long you've had it.
Current as of: March 22, 2023
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Arvydas D. Vanagunas MD - Gastroenterology & JoLynn Montgomery PA - Family Medicine