About Inflammatory Bowel
Inflammatory bowel (IBD) refers to a group of conditions that are primarily represented by Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. To a lesser extent, IBD is represented by: indeterminate colitis, diversion colitis, ischaemic colitis, and collagenous colitis. These conditions cause the intestines to become irritated and swollen, with ulcers experienced as well. This intestinal irritation can occur for long periods, clear up, then reoccur.
It is estimated that between half a million and one million Americans may be suffering from IBD and it affects men and women throughout the world. Doctors have found that IBD tends to affect the following people more often: individuals with higher socioeconomic status; people who have family members with the disease; people who live in urban areas; people living in well-developed countries; and people of Jewish heritage.
Crohn’s disease is a type of inflammatory bowel that manifests with the typical irritation, inflammation, and injury discussed above, and with symptoms often starting in early adulthood. This disease can cause symptoms for the duration of one’s lifetime, though the symptoms can be of a short duration, and then return. The intestinal lining becomes inflamed and can wear down in certain areas, causing ulcers, fissures, and abscesses to form. Occasionally, a fistula can develop in which a “passage” is created between the gut and the surface of the skin, with drainage of mucous occurring.
Because of the damage that IBD causes to the intestines, patients with this disease can lose weight, they may become deficient in vitamins and minerals, and they may become anemic. In addition, they may experience stomach pain, diarrhea, fatigue, diarrhea, and blood in the stool. Doctors will often advise these patients to avoid certain foods in order to help control the symptoms of the disease. This may include avoiding dairy products, raw vegetables, raw fruits, nuts, and foods considered to be spicy. In some cases, special liquid diets will be prescribed to the complete exclusion of other food, as this has been shown to extend the remission period in some patients.
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Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel condition characterized by digestive tract irritation, inflammation, stomach pain, and diarrhea. It is a condition that span the lifetime of patients and usually begins in early adulthood. Unlike Crohn’s disease, which can affect any portion of the digestive tract, ulcerative colitis usually affects the large intestine and rectum. No one really knows what causes this disease, but it does appear to be an autoimmune condition in which the large intestine is attacked and injured by one’s immune system.
Symptoms of IBD can encompass any of the following: loss of weight, anemia, fatigue, impaired appetite, rectal bleeding, pain of the joints, eye inflammation, liver problems, and skin lesions. Although there is no cure for ulcerative colitis, there are medications that help to lessen the intestinal inflammation and control the symtoms. These medicines include:
• Biologic Drugs
Inflammatory Bowel and Allergies
Since inflammatory bowel is a condition that damages the intestinal mucosa, various food-related substances may “leak” into the bloodstream, whereas they would normally be confined to the gastrointestinal tract. When these food substances, or antigens, leak into the bloodstream, they can cause the immune system to react as if “foreign invaders” were attacking the body. Hence, food allergies can develop. This may explain why inflammatory bowel patients tend to exhibit elevated levels of antibodies IgE and IgG in their blood.
Research seems to support the relationship between IBD and food allergy. One study found a link between the onset of ulcerative colitis episodes and ingesting food. Also, doctors have found a relationship between ulcerative colitis and reactivity to cow’s milk protein. Other studies found a link between Crohn’s disease patients and sensitivity to both egg and mild proteins. Although there are medical laboratories that will conduct food allergy testing for IBD patients, there are natural allergy testing and treatment procedures available for those patients seeking relief from their allergy related symptoms.
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Promising New Treatment
Studies recently published in the Journal of Gastroenterology discuss a new class of drugs for the treatment of inflammatory bowel. These drugs, called hydroxylase inhibitors, seem to fool the digestive tract into thinking it doesn’t have enough oxygen. The digestive tract responds by taking protective measures against the oxygen deficiency, which in turn helps to keep the intestinal lining healthy.
Researchers in Ireland and the U.S. are now collaborating with a company called Sigmoid Biotechnologies in order to develop a delivery method in which the hydroxylase inhibitors can safely be delivered to the inflamed intestines of IBD patients.