What is IBD?

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a recurring and long-term (chronic) condition that affects your digestive tract. IBD causes inflammation of the stomach, small intestine, and colon. IBD is not to be confused with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) which may have some similar symptoms, but does not cause damage to the digestive tract. IBD is a progressive disease that can become worse over time and cause other damage if not properly diagnosed and treated. There are two types of IBD: Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

  • Crohn’s disease: leads to inflammation anywhere in the gastrointestinal tract, from mouth to anus. However, it commonly affects the end of the small intestine (the ileum) and the beginning of the large intestine (right colon). Crohn’s disease can also affect the entire thickness or alternating areas of the bowel wall.
  • Ulcerative colitis: causes inflammation in the large intestine or colon. This form of IBD inflames the innermost lining of the colon and creates tiny open sores (ulcers).

Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are complex digestive tract disorders that require treatment. If left untreated, they can cause problems throughout the body such as anemia, arthritis, abdominal pain, liver inflammation, eye inflammation, and osteoporosis.

IBD tends to be the result of a combination of conditions. The inflammation of your digestive tract may be due to your family medical history (genetics), your body’s reaction a perceived invasion (immunology), and environmental issues, such as bacteria, or an injury. While the exact cause is difficult to pinpoint, we do know that early treatment can minimize the effects of the disease.

Symptoms of IBD

Although Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are different conditions, IBD conditions have similar symptoms, such as:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss

It’s important to find out if you have IBD through diagnosis by one of our specialists.

Living with IBD

Finding out that you have IBD can be the start of a positive path toward controlling the symptoms of the disease. However, there along with any condition, there may come an emotional reaction to having a condition. Living with IBD can be a challenge. Flares of symptoms may be disabling physically and emotionally. At the Feinstein IBD Center, we can help you with both aspects of living with IBD to help you maintain a good quality of life.

Your Mount Sinai IBD Center doctor will explain your condition to you following a thorough diagnosis. We will personalize your treatment plan to accommodate your personal needs. If you have questions, you can refer to answers of the most frequently asked questions, and we encourage you to ask your doctor and support staff at Mount Sinai anything that you want to understand further.

At the Feinstein IBD Center, we are always here to help you and give you the information you seek.