Though many things can provoke recurrent bouts of abdominal pain, one of the most common conditions that may be causing it is inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). In fact, a staggering 1.6 million Americans suffer from the painful diseases. What’s more, 70,000 new cases emerge and are diagnosed every year.
At Paonessa Colon & Rectal Surgery, our board-certified proctologist and general surgeon, Dr. Nina Paonessa, specializes in inflammatory bowel disease, caring for patients at both of her state-of-the-art clinics in Manahawkin and Brielle, New Jersey. She shares this information about inflammatory bowel disease and outlines five warning signs that could mean you have it.
Understanding IBD and its warning signs
IBD is mild or severe chronic inflammation of your digestive system. While the cause is not fully known, most doctors and researchers tie the condition to a failure of the immune system to react properly to a trigger.
The two most prevalent types of IBD are ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease and they share many common symptoms.
One of the worst symptoms of IBD is persistent diarrhea that can often be bloody. Because your digestive tract is so swollen and irritated, the transit time for the food you eat is expedited and water isn’t fully reabsorbed in your colon. In severe cases, you may endure up to 10 episodes of diarrhea in a single day.
2. Abdominal pain
Pain in your abdomen is a telltale symptom of IBD. Most people describe it as persistent cramping that is not relieved by a change in position or passing gas.
3. Rectal bleeding
Because your bowels are inflamed, ulcers can develop and grow large enough to bleed when you have a bowel movement. Hemorrhoids are also linked to IBD and can also be the source of rectal bleeding. Blood in your stool is always a reason for concern and should be evaluated.
4. Weight loss
Low appetite and inability to take in enough calories leads to unintended weight loss for people who struggle with IBD. Talk to Dr. Paonessa about any rapid or unintentional weight loss you’ve experienced recently.
The stress of chronic pain and diarrhea can take a toll in the form of low energy and fatigue. If you have extreme tiredness in conjunction with the other four symptoms listed here, it’s likely that you’re dealing with IBD.
Unfortunately, there’s no known cure for IBD. But thankfully, Dr. Paonessa has years of experience helping her patients mitigate symptoms and manage the condition so they can live a normal life. Some of the treatment options she may prescribe include antibiotics, corticosteroids, immunosuppressants, immunomodulators, and aminosalicylates.
If you believe you have IBD, reach out to our team for compassionate and comprehensive care. Call the office closest to you or book your appointment online.