The symptoms of inflammatory bowel diseases–Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and others–can be life-limiting. These conditions are chronic, characterized by acute flare-ups and damage to the lining of the digestive tract. How can you manage IBD? Let’s look at what gastroenterologists advise their patients to do to feel better and improve GI health and function.
Symptoms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Ulcerative colitis involves inflammation of the rectum and large intestine, or bowel. Crohn’s disease is different in that the inflammation targets the entire digestive tract.
Symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease vary in intensity. Flare-ups can include:
- Abdominal pain
- Rectal bleeding
- Weight loss
Certain environmental and lifestyle factors, as well as food choices, can trigger and escalate symptoms. The goal of treatment always includes identification and avoidance of these triggers.
However, avoidance of triggers is not the end of the story for sufferers of IBD. Pharmacological therapies–many of which show excellent promise in symptom management–help control destructive inflammation. That being said, surgery to modify or even remove sections of the GI tract remains an option when gastroenterologists and their patients cannot achieve adequate symptom relief.
Approaches to IBD Management
Drug therapy is at the center of any modern treatment plan. All medications work on reducing damaging inflammation, but they do so in different ways. Pharmacological approaches work best with lifestyle changes; so, GI specialists customize care plans and adjust them according to patient response.
Today’s most commonly prescribed IBD medications include:
- Aminosalicylates, which are oral medications that directly decrease inflammation associated with mild to moderate inflammatory bowel disease
- Corticosteroids, which are useful during acute flare-ups as they reduce inflammation by targeting specific chemicals which the immune system produces
- Biologics, which are grown in the lab and target/block certain molecules which drive the inflammatory process
- Immunomodulators, which halt the inflammatory response directly (often these drugs are added to biologics)
Lifestyle Changes That Can Help IBD Patients
If you have been diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease, your gastroenterologist may recommend a number of lifestyle changes which, together with symptom surveillance and prescription drugs, may control symptoms and help improve the lining of your GI tract. Some people find keeping a symptom journal helpful so they can accurately discuss their conditions with their physicians.
Recommended lifestyle changes can include:
- Low-fat menu choices
- Decreasing fiber (to slow the movement of stools through the bowel)
- Eliminating dairy products and replacing them with non-dairy choices, such as oat milk
- Eating smaller, more frequent portions
- Checking the safety of all herbal supplements and vitamins with the GI specialist
- Reducing stress
- Increasing daily intake of water
- Exercising regularly to tolerance
The Best Gastroenterology Care in California
Our team of board-certified gastroenterologists at inSite Digestive Care understand that inflammatory bowel disease can be frustrating and difficult to manage. So, they partner with their patients in symptom management, monitoring with precise imaging tests and offering evidence-based treatments which produce positive therapeutic outcomes.
To learn more about IBD and how to live well with it, call the clinic location nearest you and make a gastroenterology appointment. We have offices throughout California. Or, request a visit online. We look forward to helping relieve your IBD symptoms!