Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a term used to describe two conditions, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, both of which cause inflammation of the bowel.

The warning signs of IBD

IBD can occur at any age, but often begins ­between the ages of 15 – 30 years. Unfortunately, the diagnosis is often delayed as the symptoms of IBD are also caused by many other diseases. Symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhoea, passing blood or mucus from the bowel, tiredness and weight loss.

Serious complications can occur in IBD, ­including bleeding and blockage of the ­bowel. ­Patients have an increased risk of bowel cancer, especially in ulcerative colitis.

Both conditions can also affect organs outside the bowel, such as the joints, skin and eyes.

The diagnosis of IBD is usually made by passing a flexible telescope into the back passage to examine the lower bowel (sigmoidoscopy) or whole colon (colonoscopy).

Keep taking your medication

A range of new and improved medicines is now available, so that the vast majority of people with IBD can lead full and normal lives.

Your doctor will choose a medicine based on which part of the bowel is affected, the severity of the disease and which condition you have.

Medication can be taken by mouth (­tablets, granules), the back passage (enemas, ­suppositories and foam) or by injection.

Medication is used to treat flare-ups when you have symptoms. It is also taken when you are well (maintenance medication) to keep the disease under control and prevent relapse.

Maintenance medication reduces the risk of future deterioration, complications and surgery. It also lowers the risk of developing bowel cancer. Maintenance medication can now be taken once daily in some cases. Never stop it without first checking with your doctor.

The Gut Foundation
Crohn’s & Colitis Australia


Please note this information was correct at time of publication.
For up to date information, speak to your doctor.

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