Inflammatory Bowel Disease



The exact cause of IBD 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 IBD 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 symptoms, such as:
    • Belly pain and cramping
    • Sounds such as gurgling
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Bloating or feeling of fullness
  • Gas
  • Loose stools (poop)
  • Blood in stools
  • Joint pain
  • Weight loss and lack of hunger
  • Swelling of the rectum
  • Draining around the rectum


The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. 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 and prevent more problems.

Severe IBD can be life threatening and requires hospital care. In the hospital a person will receive IV fluids, electrolytes, and medicine.

General treatment options for IBD are:

Diet changes to:

  • Correct nutritional deficiencies and mineral imbalances
  • Reduce fat, fiber, and dairy products
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables

Medicines may be given by mouth or IV to:

  • Ease pain
  • Reduce swelling and inflammation
  • Adjust the immune system
  • Kill germs in the intestinal tract
  • Stop diarrhea
  • Help stool (poop) to pass more easily

Lifestyle changes that may help ease symptoms include:

  • Quitting smoking
  • Counseling, hypnotherapy, or meditation—to help manage stress, anxiety, and depression

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.