Inflammatory bowel disease refers to two chronic diseases that cause inflammation of the intestines - Ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. The symptoms of these two illnesses are very similar, which often makes it difficult to distinguish between the two. They both cause chronic inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract and may lead to complications like colon cancer.
The cause of inflammatory bowel disease remains unknown. However, current research indicates that the inflammation involves a complex interaction of factors, including heredity, the immune system and antigens in the environment.
Anti-Inflammatory medication such as NSAIDs (e.g. prednisone) are commonly used to relieve symptoms. Methotrexate (a chemotherapy drug) is often used to control the inflammation. Laxatives may be prescribed to help to relieve constipation however can have a worsening effect on stomach pain and cramping. These medications can be very helpful in times of acute flare-ups however they are only bandaid solutions and do not help to heal the mucus lining of the digestive tract.
Finding the main triggers leading to IBD-related flare-ups are two important elements in the management of this condition. Stress from work, family or a too busy lifestyle is often a factor. If this is the case, then it is important to assess the coping mechanisms you have in place to manage that stress. Deep breathing and yoga classes can be very helpful in this regard however if the problems still remain, it may be necessary to consult with a professional psychologist or psychotherapist.
Natural medicines such as probiotics and essential fatty acids have been shown to be very effective in restoring better gastrointestinal health. Food intolerance testingshould also be performed to rule in or out possible food triggers. A visit to either our Naturopathic Doctors or holistic nutritionist can get you set on the right track to being pain-free and having improved digestive health.
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