Inflammatory bowel syndrome can be described as a condition in which the intestines or a portion of the intestine is inflamed. This disease usually affects the large intestine and the small intestine. There are two main types of inflammatory bowel syndrome. These are ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease. The ulcerative colitis mainly affects the colon and rectum. However, Crohn’s disease can affect any part of the gastrointestinal system. This could range from the mouth to the esophagus, stomach to the anus. These diseases have been regarded as an autoimmune disease in the past. The explanation given for this was that the body immune system would attack the tissues of the gastrointestinal system. However, recent studies have shown that the inflammation process occurs because of the antibodies trying to attack and destroy foreign bodies, and microorganisms. Examples of these microorganisms include virus, bacteria, and remnant food in the digestive tract. This is what leads to the inflammatory processes in the bowel.
What Are The Causes Of Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome?
The exact cause of inflammatory bowel syndrome is not known yet. However, there are some factors and agents that could trigger the development of this disease. Some of these agents include microorganisms such as virus, bacteria, and antigens. These agents induce inflammatory reactions in the digestive tract. Other factors that could lead to this disease are genetics and environmental factors. Below are some of the factors;
- Diet: The consumption of large quantities of protein diet increases the risk of having inflammatory bowel disease. As an illustration, consuming a large amount of animal and fish protein increases the risk of having ulcerative colitis. Animal proteins have been proven to contain a huge amount of sulfur-containing amino acids, such as methionine.
- Microbiota: A change in the microflora of the digestive system could lead to the development of inflammatory bowel syndrome. According to a study performed on people affected by inflammatory bowel disease, it was discovered that they had about a 50% decrease in their biodiversity of commensal bacteria. There are many factors that could be responsible for the change in the flora of the digestive system. This could be as a result of environmental factors, and could also be due to the consumption of dairy products such as milk. In addition, some drugs have been implicated to reduce the bacterial culture of the digestive tract. Examples of these medications are antibiotics and iron drugs.
- Disruption of Intestinal barrier: This occurs, as a result, a disruption in the epithelium of the intestine. Breaches in the intestinal epithelium increase the risk of inflammatory bowel disease.
- Genetics: Some genes have been identified to be responsible for the development of this digestive disorder.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Inflammatory Bowel Disease?
The inflammatory bowel syndrome is a chronic medical condition. An individual affected by this disease would undergo periods in which the symptoms would be evident, and there would be times when the patient would present with no symptoms. The signs and symptoms of the inflammatory bowel disease vary in people. It could vary from mild severity, moderate severity to severe. Below are some of the common symptoms of this disorder;
- Abdominal pain: This usually present in the early stages of the disease. Patients might also experience cramps. The severity of this cramps and pain varies.
- Bloody diarrhea: Patients experience bloody diarrhea. This is more prevalent in ulcerative colitis. This can be attributed to the ulceration of the colon, especially the rectum. Bloody diarrhea is rare in Crohn’s disease.
- Fever: As a result of the different degrees of inflammatory process going on in the digestive tract, patients might usually experience fever.
- Weight loss: The pain associated with digestion, especially in the upper parts of the gastrointestinal tract might discourage patients from eating. This is more prevalent in Crohn’s disease.
- Loss of appetite: Just like explained above, the pain associated with digestion, might deter patients from wanting to eat.
- Anemia: Patients usually present with anemia, especially when the disease is not well managed. They usually have iron deficiency anaemia, because of the regular and prolonged blood loss.
Complications Of Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome
Inflammatory bowel syndrome can lead to several complications. Some of the complications of this disorder are;
- Perforation of the digestive tract: This is more common in Crohn’s disease.
- Prolonged bleeding: This occurs mostly in Ulcerative colitis. Patients do experience bleeding as a result of the ulceration in the colon. This would manifest as bloody diarrhea.
- Fistula: Patients with Crohn’s disease usually experience fistula formation. This is one of the features of this disease. There is transmural inflammation. This means that the inflammatory disease would affect the three layers of the bowel. This occurs mostly around the anus, and in the tissues that surround the anus.
- Toxic megacolon: This is a condition in which the colon becomes extremely big. This condition is usually life-threatening.
- Malnutrition: This might occur as a result of malabsorption. In addition, patients might lose their appetite due to the discomfort associated with eating.
Can Stool Softeners Help Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome?
Stool softeners can help to solve the constipation symptom associated with inflammatory bowel syndrome. They help to add more water to the stool. This makes them soft, which makes them pass through the intestines easily. Examples of stool softeners are Colase and so on.
Other remedies for inflammatory bowel syndrome include the use of bowel stimulants. Bowel stimulants work by increasing the motility of the intestine. However, it is advised to only take a stimulant if the situation is severe.
How Is Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome Treated?
The inflammatory bowel syndrome can be treated by both self-care, and medical therapy. Some of the self-care methods include the use of stool softeners, stimulants, exercising and so on. On the other hand, medical therapy includes the use of drugs that would help to control and suppress the inflammatory process. Surgery can also be performed in cases of complication. For example, a patient that presents with a complication of toxic megacolon would have to undergo surgery.
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