Inflammatory Bowel Disease



The exact cause is not known. It is the result of a problem with the immune system. Genetics may also play a role.

Risk Factors

Things that may raise the risk of this problem are:

  • Having a family member with IBD
  • Having problems with the immune system



Symptoms may happen all the time or they may come and go. Symptoms depend on the type of IBD, but common problems are:

  • Belly pain and cramping
  • Belly sounds such as gurgling
  • Bloating or feeling of fullness
  • Gas
  • Loose stools
  • Blood in stools
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Joint pain
  • Weight loss and lack of hunger
  • Swelling of the rectum
  • Draining around the rectum


The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. Blood and stool tests may also be done.

Images may need to be taken. This can be done with:

  • X-ray
  • Barium enema
  • Upper GI endoscopy
  • Capsule endoscopy

A colonoscopy may be done. A long, flexible tube will be inserted through the rectum to inspect the intestines.

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There is no cure. The goal of treatment is to manage symptoms. Choices are:

Dietary Changes

Dietary changes may include switching to a diet that is:

  • Low in fat
  • Rich in fruits and vegetables
  • Low in fiber and dairy products


Medicines may be given, such as:

  • Pain relievers
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Corticosteroids to ease swelling
  • Immune system suppressors
  • Antibiotics to kill germs in the intestinal tract
  • Anti-diarrheal medicine
  • Laxatives to help stool pass more easily


Surgery is not helpful for all types of IBD. People with severe ulcerative colitis may need surgery to remove the colon.


There are no current guidelines to prevent this health problem.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.