Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is used to describe two conditions: Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis

IBD are chronic (long-term) condition that involve inflammation of the gut

Ulcerative colitis only affects the colon (large intestines). Crohn's disease can affect any part of the digestive tract; from mouth to anus.


Symptoms of IBD

People of any age can get IBD and it is commonly diagnosed between ages of 15 and 40

Symptoms include:

  • pain, cramps and swelling in the tummy
  • persistent or bloody diarrhoea
  • weight loss
  • tiredness

Not everyone has all of these symptoms. Some people may have additional symptoms, including fever, vomiting and anaemia

The symptoms of IBD can come and go. There may be times when they are severe (flares) and periods when there are few or no symptoms (remission)


Treating IBD

There is currently no cure for Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis.

Treatment aims to relieve the symptoms and prevent them returning. This includes specific diets, lifestyle changes, medicines and surgery.

Medicines used to treat IBD include

  • Aminosalicylates or mesalazines
  • Immunosuppresants - Eg. steroids or azathioprine to reduce activity of the immune system
  • Biologics - Antibody-based treatments that taret a specific part of the immune system

About 1 in 5 people with ulcerative colitis have severe symptoms and don't improve with medication. In these cases, surgery may be necessary to remove an inflamed section of the large bowel (colon).

About 60 - 75% of people with Crohn's disease will need surgery to repair damage to their gut and treat complications of Crohn's disease.

People with IBD are also at increased risk of getting bowel cancer. It is recommended that regular bowel check-ups (colonoscopy) is performed by a specialist to reduce risk of bowel cancer.