Inflammatory bowel disease

Inflammatory bowel disease is a chronic inflammatory condition of the gut.  There are two types:

  • Ulcerative colitis which affects the colon
  • Crohn’s disease which can affect any part of the gut from the mouth to the anus

Common symptoms include:  abdominal pain, bloody diarrhoea, urgency, and weight loss.

Rare symptoms include painful eyes and joints, or abscesses and discharging sinuses around the anus. 

Symptoms can wax and wane, but most people benefit from long-term anti-inflammatory or immuno-suppressant medications to settle and control their symptoms. Due to the chronicity and nature of the condition and long-term cancer risk, patients with inflammatory bowel disease should be followed up by a gastroenterologist.

Tests to investigate inflammatory bowel disease include a colonoscopy, computerised tomography x-ray (CT), magnetic resonance imaging scan (MRI), and occasionally a gastroscopy (OGD) or capsule endoscopy.

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