Crohn’s & Colitis Treatment

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Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a chronic inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract. It has two main conditions – ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Ulcerative colitis affects the colon and Crohn’s can affect any part of the GI tract from the mouth to the anus. Symptoms include: abdominal pain, cramps, diarrhea, constipation, weight loss, and loss of appetite. 

If you’re suffering from Crohn’s or Colitis or not responding to your current treatment, GIS can help.  Our research center has multiple drugs in development that can aid you in regaining control of your disease.  Call (318) 631-9121 to make an appointment

Inflammatory Bowel Disease: Q&A with Dr. Aguilar

AguilarWhat is inflammatory bowel disease and how is it diagnosed?

Inflammatory bowel disease is a chronic inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract.  It has two main conditions – chronic ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.  Typically, it is diagnosed by endoscopy with some assistance of radiological techniques.  The difference between Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis is that ulcerative colitis only affects the colon and Crohn’s can affect any part of the GI tract from the mouth to the anus.

Do I have ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s and how to differentiate that?

The difference is that ulcerative colitis is limited to the colon and Crohn’s disease typically has a combined involvement of the small bowel and the colon, although Crohn’s can also affect the stomach and any part of the GI tract.  The way to tell the difference depends on the parts that are affected and the behavior of the disease.

What part of my intestine is affected?

Typically, Crohn’s affects any part of the GI tract but ulcerative colitis only the colon.

Could any other disease be causing my symptoms?

Typically, the most common presentation is bloody diarrhea, diarrhea and abdominal pain and, in young patients, weight loss.  The symptoms could be caused by a problem as simple as IBS and in the absence of bleeding sometimes it is very difficult to differentiate between IBD and IBS.

How is IBD different from IBS?  Can I have both?

The difference between IBD and IBS is IBD is chronic, usually persistent, is associated with bleeding, weight loss and is a more severe condition.  IBS tends to be mainly symptoms that are not associated with any alarm signs.  Some people with IBD do also have IBS and those two diseases can overlap.

How is IBD treated?

The treatment of IBD depends on the severity of the condition.  When the disease is mild, we can treat that with tablets but when the disease is more aggressive, we tend to use injectables that are called biologics, usually monoclonal antibodies that are designed to decrease inflammation that is causing this disease.

What are the potential side effects of the medicines? 

Regarding the potential side effects of the medication, first of all we need to say that the medications overall are extremely safe.  The risks for complications are small and infrequent and usually the benefits of the treatment outweigh the risks.

Diet?

Regarding diet, there are so many different diets that have been used throughout the years for IBD but none of those have proven to be consistently effective.  My behavior regarding diet is if the diet is not detrimental to the overall health of my patients, I let them try because of the potential benefits of the patient’s dedication to those diets but overall they have not been consistently shown to be effective.  There are some specific kinds of patients that will benefit from a low fiber diet but most of the time, diet is very well tolerated, especially patients with ulcerative colitis.

Smoking?

Regarding smoking, smoking has been noticed to be detrimental for patients with Crohn’s disease and maybe somewhat protective for the ulcerative colitis; however, the damage that smoking causes is much worse than any potential benefit in ulcerative colitis, so we always encourage patients to stop smoking.

What are the possible complications of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis?

Well, one of the most detrimental complications of this condition is colon cancer.  Chronic inflammatory changes are also associated with increased risk for colon cancer.  For that reason, it is recommended that when you have a duration of the disease for more than 8 – 10 years to undergo colonoscopies every other year.  Other complications are the development of abscess and perforations that would require surgery.

Will I need an operation and, if so, will the surgery cure my IBD?

About 30% of patients with IBD, especially with Crohn’s, undergo surgery within 5 – 10 years of the diagnosis of the disease.  In Crohn’s disease, surgery is not curative and in ulcerative colitis a total colectomy would be curative; however, there could be a relapse at the level of the anastomosis.  So, with surgery, you have a new beginning and at that time would tend to know that it is better to treat patients before the disease comes back.  Increase of colon cancer as already mentioned, but you have the duration of more than 8 – 10 years that increases the risk for colon cancer.

Treatment?

Regarding treatments, we have many treatment opportunities now.  We are doing high scientific research and we have many options for patients, so we will offer that to them. Call (318) 631-9121 to make an appointment.