Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

What is inflammatory bowel disease?

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a broad term that describes conditions with chronic or recurring immune response and inflammation of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. In people with IBD, the immune system mistakes food, bacteria, and other materials in the intestine for foreign substances and it attacks the cells of the intestines. In the process, the body sends white blood cells into the lining of the intestines where they produce chronic inflammation in all or part of the digestive tract. IBD usually involves severe diarrhea, pain, fatigue and weight loss. IBD can be debilitating and sometimes leads to life-threatening complications. The two common types of inflammatory bowel disease are:
  • Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease that causes long-lasting inflammation and sores (ulcers) in the innermost lining of your large intestine (colon) and rectum.
  • Crohn's disease is an inflammatory bowel disease that cause inflammation of the lining of your digestive tract. 


Risk factors

  • Age. Most people who develop IBD are diagnosed before they're 30 years old. But some people don't develop the disease until their 50s or 60s.
  • Race or ethnicity. Although Caucasians have the highest risk of the disease, it can occur in any race. 
  • Family history. You're at higher risk if you have a close relative with the disease.
  • Smoking. Cigarette smoking is the most important controllable risk factor for developing Crohn's disease. However, smoking may provide some protection against ulcerative colitis. 
  • Isotretinoin use. Some studies suggest it may be a risk factor for IBD, but a clear association between IBD and isotretinoin has not been established.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications. Certain types of anti-inflammatory medications may increase the risk of developing IBD or worsen disease in people who have IBD.
  • Where you live. If you live in an urban area or in an industrialized country, you're more likely to develop IBD. 
Along with a patient's history and physical exam, diagnosis may include:
  • Blood tests
  • Tests for anemia or infection
  • Fecal occult blood test
  • Endoscopic procedures
  • Colonoscopy
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy
  • Upper endoscopy
  • Capsule endoscopy
  • Double-balloon endoscopy
  • Imaging procedures
  • X-ray
  • Computerized tomography (CT) scan
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Small bowel imaging


Treatment options vary depending on the severity of each patient’s case. They are designed to help control symptoms, reduce inflammation, and relieve abdominal pain, diarrhea, and rectal bleeding.
  • 10-20% of people diagnosed with IBD also have a family history of IBD
  • Affects about 1 –1.3 million Americans.
about inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

  • "Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)." Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 18 Feb. 2015. Web. 27 Apr. 2017.
  • "Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 04 Sept. 2014. Web. 27 Apr. 2017.
  • "Inflammatory Bowel Disease." Inflammatory Bowel Disease | ACG Patients. American College of Gastroenterology, n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2017.
  • Szigethy, E., L. McLafferty, and A. Goyal. "Inflammatory Bowel Disease." Pediatric Clinics of North America. U.S. National Library of Medicine, Aug. 2011. Web. 27 Apr. 2017.
  • "Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)." Cleveland Clinic: Health Library. Cleveland Clinic, 2 June 2016. Web. 27 Apr. 2017.
  • Butanis, Benjamin. "About IBD: Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis." Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Diagnosis and Treatment Options | Johns Hopkins. Johns Hopkins Health System, 17 Oct. 2016. Web. 27 Apr. 2017.


Chronic inflammation may be caused by a handful of diseases and conditions, including: asthmarheumatoid arthritis, tuberculosis, ulcerative colitis, and more. Environmental and lifestyle factors, such as excess weight, poor diet, stress, and lack of exercise, can also cause chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation can cause daily ailments, which may interfere with your daily routine. To combat these complications, check out these 20 tips for chronic inflammation:
chronic inflammation - twenty tips


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