What is IBD?

IBD stands for ‘Inflammatory Bowel Disease’ which includes 2 main conditions: Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis. IBD should not be confused with ‘IBS’ which stands for ‘irritable bowel syndrome’ and which is much more common and much less severe than IBD.  It is estimated that as many as 5 – 10% of the population of countries in the western world suffer from IBS, which may develop after gastrointestinal infections, courses of antibiotics or as a result of stress and anxiety. The prevalence of IBD however is each only about 140 per 100,000 of the population, and its causes are far less well understood.

IBD means that there is inflammation in the bowel wall which causes reddening, swelling, ulceration and bleeding, visible at endoscopy or on X-rays. The inflammation seen under the microscope in small samples of affected bowel (biopsies) taken at endoscopy, often differ from one form of IBD to another, helping an accurate diagnosis to be reached, and the correct treatment to be prescribed.

There are several types of IBD, but the two most frequent and most important are Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis (UC).

Diagram of a normal gut
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