Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a term coined to describe disorders that are characterised by chronic inflammation of the digestive tract. These conditions typically manifest as episodes of relapse (flare-ups) and remissions over a period of time. Patients who develop flare of IBD mainly experience abdominal pain, diarrhoea, passage of blood and mucus on defaecation, fatigue and weight loss. This is then followed by periods of quiescence or remission when they may feel well.
The umbrella term IBD primarily encompasses two distinct conditions – Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative colitis. Although both conditions share many similarities, the distinct differences between the two conditions influence how patients present and their subsequent management and treatment. The mainstay of IBD is medical treatment. We work closely with our gastroenterology colleagues who will continually assess and manage patients on drug treatments, with the aim of optimising control of the condition. In certain instances, patients may require elective (planned) or emergency surgery to the bowel, particularly where the medications are not effective, or where complications arise from the condition. Occasionally, patients with Crohn’s disease develop fistula affecting the bottom (anus), and this may require surgical treatment.