What is the difference between these conditions?
There is a lot of confusion concerning Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are two forms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). There are differences between the IBD and IBS, but they are not necessarily exclusive conditions and may occur simultaneously.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) often presents as a group of symptoms very similar to those of IBS, but usually with the additional symptom bright red blood in the stool. Diagnosis is made by performing a colonoscopy, and often a biopsy. Detection of ulcerations in the colon confirms the IBD diagnosis of either Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis.
So what causes these diseases?
Although we don’t know for sure what causes Crohn’s Disease & ulcerative colitis, evidence points to activation of the immune system via environmental triggers and to a potential genetic link. For example, people with family members who have IBD are more likely to have IBD. Conventional treatment usually involves anti-inflammatory medications to try to control the inflammation.
Patients with IBD, like many people with IBS, often get discouraged by the inability to control their symptoms and the unpredictable nature of the condition. Through Integrative Functional Medicine, Dr. Jill has found that patients with IBD often have microbial imbalances or food allergies that are directly related to their poor digestion.
A common reason for IBD symptoms is uncontrolled inflammation.
Patients with IBD are suffering from inflammation in the digestive tract. And the issues that cause inflammation in the digestive are the same for IBS as they are for IBD. The difference is that in the case of IBD the inflammation is resulting in ulcers within the digestive tract. Medical studies have established that there are many different causes for this type of inflammation, but it takes a specialist trained to do the detective work to sort through these causes in order to get to underlying cause. And each person is different, so each case is unique.
Food allergies commonly cause ulcerations in the digestive tract, whether it be “canker sores” in the mouth or other types of ulcerations throughout the digestive tract. Numerous microorganisms, including various bacteria and yeast, can also cause ulcerations. And it has also been demonstrated that food allergies can cause bleeding in the digestive tract.
Testing for and treating microbial imbalances includes DNA testing of the stool for diagnosing bacteria, yeast, and parasitic problems. And food allergy testing involves blood testing for antibody reactions to foods commonly found in the diet. While the blood tests are not perfect, they often give critical clues to what foods might be triggering ongoing inflammation and symptoms. An elimination diet can bring great relief to the patient. Testing for underlying causes is a good idea for anyone who suffers from a diagnosis of Crohn’s or colitis. It can even be helpful for patients who’ve been told by their doctor that they have IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and must “learn to live with” the symptoms, such as gas, bloating, pain, diarrhea or constipation.
If you or someone you know suffers from Ulcerative Colitis or Crohn’s Disease, please encourage them to call Flatiron Functional Medicine. There is hope and healing in store… Dr. Jill’s goal is to help them find it!
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