For many people who live day-to-day with a serious illness, especially a chronic one, it becomes crucial to understand the illness, how to manage it, and how to live a healthy life. One of these chronic conditions that affects your digestive health includes inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD.
Let’s Talk About Our Bowels
We understand that discussions about your bowel habits can be challenging, especially when you’re talking about signs and symptoms that can include diarrhea, fever, fatigue, blood in your stool, pain and cramping in the abdomen, reduced appetite, and unintended weight loss. These are not exactly the topics of casual conversation, especially with a teenager in your home, but it is important to note that IBD can be diagnosed in teens and adolescents. But as a gastroenterologist, Dr. Islam, is specially trained to diagnose IBD and is here to have those specific conversations with you. If you notice a change in your bowel movements, or an overall change in your health including some of the symptoms listed above, it’s time to call Dr. Sameer Islam for an appointment.
What Is IBD?
Although we hear a lot about irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), it’s important to draw the distinction between the two. IBS and IBD are two totally different conditions. While their symptoms can appear similar, their root cause is different, with IBD being a chronic condition caused by inflammation along the digestive tract.
IBD is a term that encompasses two different types of bowel disease, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Although they’re grouped together under the umbrella of IBD, they do have a couple of key differences that distinguish the two conditions. They differ in location of the inflammation. Crohn’s can affect the entire GI tract while ulcerative colitis is mostly limited to the large intestine, rectum, or colon. Ulcerative colitis appears in a continuous pattern, with the inflammation affecting the innermost lining of the intestine. In contrast, Crohn’s can extend through the entire thickness of the bowel wall and can appear in random patches. The most notable difference between the two conditions is that 67% of people with Crohn’s will relapse within five years of going into remission in comparison to the 30% who will experience a relapse of ulcerative colitis within the next year.
How Do I Know If I Have IBD?
Diagnosing IBD is important so that we can distinguish between the actual disease and someone who might be experiencing a different form of stomach issues. There are panels of blood and physical tests that we can run for you to determine if you are suffering from IBD. One critical part of your diagnosis is keeping track of your overall health and symptoms. If you can, keep a log of foods you’ve eaten and symptoms they triggered, how long you’ve been feeling this way, and any medications you’ve tried to help manage your symptoms. You can even download a Doctor Discussion Guide from crohnsandcolitis.com to help you know what to keep track of. The most important thing to remember about your appointment is that there’s no need to be embarrassed. This is what we do. We’ve had many conversations with our patients about uncomfortable digestive health issues and we’re ready to discuss any that you may be having as well. If you’ve received a diagnosis of either ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s, the next step is to manage it under our care. We will guide you on proper diet and exercise regimens as well as how to manage the symptoms. It is important to follow up with all scheduled appointments, take medications as prescribed, and report any changes in your symptoms or overall health quickly. IBD can have serious side-effects and should be monitored carefully.
If you’ve noticed a distinct change in your digestive health, it’s time to make an appointment with Dr. Islam and put you on a course of treatment that will improve your health and general well being.