Gastrointestinal Associated Specialists
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Get the answers — & the relief — you need.

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a group of disorders that cause swelling and inflammation in the intestines, affecting as many as 1 million Americans. Often confused with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), IBD refers to two chronic diseases: ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

While Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis have common features, there are important differences. Ulcerative colitis affects the inner lining (mucosa) of the large intestine (colon), causing it to become inflamed and develop ulcers. Crohn’s disease, on the other hand, can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract and causes inflammation that extends deeper into the intestinal wall than with ulcerative colitis. While ulcerative colitis tends to affect only the lining of the bowel, Crohn’s disease typically involves the entire bowel wall.

Symptoms of IBD can include:

• Mild to severe diarrhea
• Abdominal pain
• Rectal bleeding, sometimes leading to anemia
• Fever
• Fatigue
• Weight loss, dehydration & malnutrition
• Possible delayed development & stunted growth in children

What causes IBD?

The cause of IBD is unknown, though many factors may be involved, including diet, environment and genetics. Evidence suggests a possible genetic defect that affects how the immune system is switched on and off in response to bacteria, a virus or certain food proteins.

Diagnosis is the first step to getting relief.

Even with years of damage to the bowel, some IBD patients have no symptoms. When symptoms are present, they can mimic other disorders, making diagnosis challenging. Direct visualization with upper and lower endoscopy is the tool most commonly used for evaluating symptoms, though medical history and other tests are also vital to the diagnosis.

Gastrointestinal Associated Specialists’ board-certified gastroenterologists, James M. Walden, MD, and Gregory A. Schnell, MD, provide the skill and decades of experience to differentiate the symptoms and determine if your problem is IBD or something else. And whatever your diagnosis, our specialists have not only the know-how to treat your disorder but the dedication to help you live a more normal and rewarding life.

For the personalized, experienced and results-focused care you deserve, call Gastrointestinal Associated Specialists today at (816) 527-0031 or use our online Patient Portal. For additional information on any condition, treatment or procedure, please visit our Health Education Library.