Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a group of intestinal conditions that result in sustained inflammation of the digestive tract. IBD can be the result of a variety of causes and can affect the whole digestive tract, which starts at the mouth and includes the oesophagus, stomach, small intestine, and the large intestine.
The digestive tract is responsible for breaking down food, extracting nutrients, removing unusable material and waste products from the body. Inflammation at any point along the tract can disrupt its activity, causing you pain and discomfort.
Certain estimates suggest that around 61,000 Australians suffer from IBD-related conditions.
This blog looks at the types and causes of IBD. Medical treatment for this condition can be sought through an experienced gastroenterologist in Sydney.
Similar to other gastroenterological conditions, the exact causes of IBD remain unknown. Despite this, researchers have been able to identify several factors that prove pertinent to those suffering from this condition.
If you have a sibling or parent with this condition, you may be more likely to develop inflammatory bowel disease. Family history is pertinent in determining the level of risk you face for this condition.
The immune system also influences the onset of IBD. This system normally defends your body from organisms that cause disease and infections, including those that affect the digestive tract.
An immune system response can cause inflammation in the digestive tract. This is normal. As the infection is taken care of, inflammation must also subside. For some people, this isn’t necessarily the case - inflammation continues even after the infection is gone. The immune system then attacks the body itself; a phenomenon known as an autoimmune response.
This inflammation can be prolonged for a significant period of time.
Apart from the causes of IBD, certain risk factors may make you more vulnerable to the onset of this condition. These include:
Smoking not only leads to Crohn’s disease, one of the types of IBD, it also worsens pain, exacerbates other symptoms, and increases the risk of complications.
Conversely, ulcerative colitis, another type of IBD, primarily affects non-smokers or those who have smoked extensively in the past.
Certain demographical factors like race and age can play determine whether you are diagnosed with any IBD-related conditions.
When it comes to race, Caucasians and Ashkenazi Jews may be at higher risk of developing inflammatory bowel disease.
In terms of age, IBD is generally diagnosed before the age of 35. That being said, it’s possible for symptoms to begin at almost any age.
If you live in an urban or industrialised area, the risk of developing these types of conditions may increase. People in these areas may be more likely to eat more fatty and processed food, which can be a risk factor.
Additionally, IBD may also be more prevalent in cold and northern climates.
Gender is another factor that affects the prevalence of IBD. In particular, research indicates that men may be more likely to be diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, whereas women may suffer, disproportionately, from Crohn’s disease.
While many diseases fall under the categorisation of inflammatory bowel disease, the two primary types of IBD are ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
The former involves the inflammation of the large intestine, whereas Crohn’s disease primarily affects the end of the small intestine. Despite this, it can cause inflammation in any part of the digestive tract.
Regardless of the causes of IBD, the symptoms of this condition can lead to significant pain and discomfort. To enjoy substantive relief from symptoms, it’s crucial that you seek medical guidance on how to treat and manage your condition.
For further information on inflammatory bowel disease, consult a trusted gastroenterologist in Sydney with expertise in interventional gastroenterology and hepatology, Dr Suhirdan Vivekanandarajah.
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