Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

Crohn’s disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC) belong to a group of conditions known as inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). IBD also includes indeterminate colitis (IC), a term used when it is not clear if inflammation is due to Crohn’s or colitis, constituting about 15% of all cases. It is unclear why people get IBD, however, research shows that a combination of genes, an overactive immune system, and environmental factors all play a role.

Many new treatments have made IBD more manageable today than it was only ten years ago. It is important to bear in mind that IBD is a chronic illness and requires proactive care. Successful disease management begins with an accurate diagnosis and assessment of disease activity, including its precise location in the gastrointestinal tract. Choices for both medical and surgical treatment options will be guided by ongoing clinical and diagnostic monitoring. As you learn about the diagnostic tests and procedures, you will also become familiar with the tools that will help manage IBD for the long term.

Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis?

Crohn’s disease may involve inflammation in any part of the gastrointestinal tract (from mouth to anus) while ulcerative colitis is confined to the large intestine (the colon and rectum). Some of the medications available for treatment can be used for either ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, however, some medications are used for only Crohn’s disease or only ulcerative colitis. Also, some medications are used for cases involving specific areas of the intestinal tract. Your physician will need to locate the sites of active disease and complications to help select the most effective therapies for your IBD.

Treatment Options in IBD

If you have been diagnosed with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), you’ll want to learn as much as possible about the treatment options available. Over the past decade, major advances in deciphering the mechanisms of this disease has greatly expanded those options. Understanding which forces are work—and when—have generated a number of exciting opportunities for therapeutic intervention.

Before 1990, only a few types of medication were available. Since then, there has been a dramatic increase both in the scope of research and in the development of medications to treat Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. As a result, people living with IBD have more treatment options than ever before. What’s more, information emerging from ongoing clinical trials suggests that we can expect an even greater number of therapeutic choices in the years ahead.

The Aims of Medical Therapy

Currently, there are no medical cures for IBD. However, several different medications have proven to be effective in helping to control it. Medical therapy for IBD has three main goals:

  • Inducing remission (periods of time that are symptom-free);
  • Maintaining remission (preventing flare-ups of disease);
  • Improving the patient’s quality of life.

To achieve these goals, therapy must suppress the chronic intestinal inflammation that causes the symptoms of IBD. When the inflammation is under control, the intestines can absorb essential nutrients. This, in turn, enables patients to avoid surgery and long-term complications.

If you have been diagnosed with  IBD you may be eligible for a Medical Marijuana recommendation in New York State