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A to Z: Inflammatory Bowel Disease

A to Z: Inflammatory Bowel Disease

May also be called: IBD, Crohn's Disease, Ulcerative Colitis

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a term medical people use for two diseases of the intestines (bowels): Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Both cause inflammation  in the intestine. 

More to Know

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a lifelong condition. Doctors don't know the exact cause. It might be that the body's immune system, which fights germs and disease, does not work normally. IBD can run in families.

People with IBD might have abdominal pain, diarrhea (sometimes with blood), and notice they're losing weight. Children with IBD may have growth problems and delayed puberty. IBD also can cause problems in other parts of the body, like joint pain, skin rashes, and eye problems. The symptoms of IBD can come and go over time.

There are differences between the two kinds of IBD: Ulcerative colitis happens only in the inner lining of the large intestine (the colon). Crohn's disease can happen anywhere in the digestive system, including the mouth and anus, though it usually happens in the last part of the small intestine and parts of the large intestine. Crohn's disease affects the entire bowel wall, not just the lining. 

Keep in Mind

There's no cure for IBD, but it can be treated with medicines. People with IBD should eat a variety of healthy foods and get enough calories. Some may need to take nutritional supplements. 

All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.