Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Treatment in Birmingham, AL

What is Inflammatory Bowel Disease?

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (or IBD) is a very common, long-term condition that affects the digestive system.

It is slightly more common in women than men. Inflammatory Bowel Disease usually starts in early adulthood but can occur at any age. Up to three million Americans have some form of IBD.

If you’ve been diagnosed with Inflammatory Bowel Disease, don’t hesitate to see a specialist. For patients in the Birmingham area, the surgeons with Advanced Surgeons, P.C. are here to help. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

Types of IBD

IBD includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Both types affect the digestive system. In both cases, there is chronic inflammation of the intestines.

Some symptoms may overlap between both types of Inflammatory Bowel Disease, but there are a few key differences.

Crohn’s disease

  • Location – In Crohn’s disease, the inflammation can appear anywhere in the digestive tract, from the mouth to the anus. Crohn’s disease usually affects more of the GI tract and symptoms can appear throughout the body.

Inflamed Spots – People with Crohn’s disease often have healthy areas in between inflamed spots.

Ulcerative colitis

Large Intestine Location – In Ulcerative colitis, the inflammation affects only the large intestine.

Continuous Inflammation – With ulcerative colitis, there are no healthy areas in between inflamed spots.

What are Symptoms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease?

With both types of Inflammatory Bowel Disease, you may have periods of normalcy and other times when symptoms disrupt your daily life.

IBD affects the gut or the large intestine and colon. When you eat food and it passes through your intestines, the wall of the bowel slowly helps to break down the food.

The gut wall is sensitive. If you have IBD, your immune system mistakes foods as foreign substances. This means it releases  antibodies to fight off this treat and it causes IBD symptoms such as:

  • Cramping
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Gas
  • Loss of appetite
  • Upset stomach

We do not know what causes IBS, but some triggers may include:

  • Infections
  • Environmental stress
  • Medications
  • Family history or genetics

How Will I Know If I Have Inflammatory Bowel Disease?

If you have or are worried you may have IBD, talk with a specialist about your symptoms. It can be frustrating to live with these complications, and your primary care physician can perform several screenings to get the answers you need.

Seek medical attention if you have:

  • Blood in your stool
  • Extreme weight loss
  • Fever

These may be symptoms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease, but your doctor will also screen for cancer or Celiac Disease.

You may also have symptoms similar to IBD,  but no inflammation. In this case, you may have Irritable Bowel Syndrome. With IBS, there is no sign of disease or abnormality during an exam of the colon.

Ruling out other conditions can get you on the road to recovery. Based on your symptoms, stool tests, or blood tests you can find the cause for your discomfort.

Your doctor may also examine the lower part of your large intestines. This is a test called sigmoidoscopy. A  sigmoidoscopy may be used to examine or diagnose certain conditions or structures in your lower colon.

How Can I Treat Inflammatory Bowel Disease?

Treatment for Inflammatory Bowel Disease can help you live a normal life. Although this is a chronic condition, there are many who live in remission a majority of the time.

Remission is considered as a period of time when you do not have any IBD flares. Medications or surgery can help you on your road to recovery.

Other daily treatment options for IBD include:

  • Finding ways to relax and manage stress
  • Getting regular exercise
  • Meeting with a nutritionist for recommendations
  • Keep a diary of foods you eat to avoid common triggers
  • Take over-the-counter drugs to relieve constipation or diarrhea

Often there is no one single fix for IBD. Your surgeon can work with you to see what works best for you.

Medications and Surgical Treatments for IBD

Your physician will work with you to find a medication that helps control your IBD symptoms. Often, medications can help control the inflammation so you can live a normal life.

Some medications to treat IBD include: antibiotics to treat infections, anti-inflammatory medicine, biologics, corticosteroids to manage flares, immunomodulators to calm an overactive immune system, antidiarrheal medication, or probiotics including vitamins and supplements.

If medication is not working for you, you may need to seek surgical care.

With Crohn’s disease, as many as seventy percent eventually need surgery. Surgery may include a bowel resection to remove the part of the bowel that is diseased and connect two healthy ends of the bowel together.

With Ulcerative colitis, about 1 in 3 people need surgery after living more than 30 years with the disease. Surgery may include removing the colon and/or rectum and connecting your small intestine and the anus. You then have a pouch that collects stool and exits through the anus. This procedure usually cures you of the disease.

How Can I Find an IBD Provider?

If you have IBD you can still enjoy an active, normal life. With the right medical care, you can manage symptoms and no longer have digestive issues getting in the way.

It is important to find a provider you trust to join you on your journey with IBD.

Give us a call. We want to set you up for success with first, the proper diagnosis then, a treatment plan that works for you. If you need potential surgery we will talk you through your options, and we will be there each step of the way.

IBD Surgery Specialists

IBD is a lifelong condition, and we are here to help you with lifelong treatment and follow-up care. Our surgeons are board-certified by the American Board of Surgery and have years of experience treating IBD. Contact our Birmingham office at (205) 595-8985 for more information on IBD surgery.