What is Inflammatory Bowel Disease?
The term Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) refers to a group of inflammatory diseases that affect the digestive tract with periodic outbreaks of symptoms. The cause of the disease, which mainly involves ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, remains unknown.
This chronic disease alternates between symptomatic episodes and periods in which the symptoms disappear after customizing medical treatment.These episodes are very unpredictable because their frequency and severity vary greatly. Nonetheless, 50% of patients present only mild symptoms and most of the time are asymptomatic.
The digestive system
The digestive system comprises a group of organs responsible for digestion.
The system serves to transport food, break it down with digestive juices, absorb its nutrients and then expel waste products as faeces.
The digestive tract is approximately 11 metres from mouth to anus and is composed of the oesophagus, stomach, small intestine and large intestine (colon).
The small intestine measures between 6 and 7 m and comprises the duodenum, jejunum and ileum, which collectively absorb nutrients from previously digested food. It starts in the duodenum and finishes at the ileocaecal valve where it joins the large intestine.
The large intestine, also called the colon, is usually between 1,2m and 1,6m long, and its main function is to absorb water from digested food in order to form more solid faeces.
The colon is formed from different segments; they are called the caecum, ascending colon (or right colon), transverse colon, descending colon (or left colon), sigmoid and rectum. From the blind to the rectum, the colon forms a series of curves that form what is called the colic framework.
An inflamed colon loses its capacity to absorb water which translates into less consistent stools (they become pasty or even liquid). Stools may even contain blood during episodes of severe inflammation.
How many people are affected by Inflammatory Bowel Disease?
Inflammatory bowel disease is more prevalent in developed countries and in the Caucasian population. It affects men and women in equal proportions. The disease can appear at any age; however it is most commonly diagnosed in people aged 20 to 30 years, with a second increase in incidence in people aged 50 to 70.
In Spain, it is estimated that 87–110 out of every 100,000 people are affected by IBD.
Receive the latest updates related to this content.
Thank you for subscribing!
We have received your information. Check your inbox, in a few moments you will receive a confirmation email.