Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a group of disorders that cause chronic inflammation of the digestive tract. Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are the two most common of these diseases, affecting nearly 2 million Americans.

Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are similar in many ways. They both cause swelling and sores along the tissue that lines the digestive tract and can cause abdominal pain and frequent diarrhea. Crohn’s disease can develop anywhere in the digestive tract, from the mouth to the rectum, and penetrates into the deep layers of the lining. Ulcerative colitis usually affects only the outermost layer of the tissue lining the colon (the large intestine).

The symptoms of Crohn’s disease depend on where the disease occurs in the bowel and its severity. In general, symptoms include:

  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain and tenderness (often on the right side of the lower abdomen)
  • Feeling of a mass or fullness in the lower, right abdomen

The main symptom of ulcerative colitis is diarrhea, which subsequently becomes bloody. Occasionally the symptoms of ulcerative colitis include severe bloody diarrhea, abdominal pain, and fever. (Cleveland Clinic)

Currently there is no cure for IBD, and medication is recommended in the early stages of  Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis.  Once the conditions become more serious, surgery is recommended.  Researchers and surgeons are constantly developing new therapies as well as improving on traditional care methods.  One institution on the forefront of research in this field is The Cleveland Clinic.  The Cleveland Clinic is the first center in the world to use optical coherence tomography, a sophisticated new imaging technique, in inflammatory bowel disease patients. This technology allows the layers of the intestinal wall to be examined and evaluated for detecting microscopic areas of inflammation and differentiating between Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

Dr. Jeffrey Ponsky will be hosting a FREE event on Inflammatory Bowel Disease: Updates and Controversies as it relates to adults and children on August 7th.  Please visit our website to register or find out more details.