bowelInflammatory bowel disease is the name of a group of disorders that cause the intestines to become inflamed (red and swollen). The inflammation lasts a long time and usually comes back over and over again. Inflammation often leads to ulceration and eventually scar tissue can form. This includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Although the cause of the disease is unknown, it may be due to the immune system attacking the intestinal tract. Symptoms include abdominal pain, cramping, diarrhea, or bloody stools. The patient may also have fatigue, loss of appetite, anemia, dehydration and fever. Severity of symptoms vary from patient to patient. Inflammatory bowel disease symptoms can be mild in some patients, but severe cases can develop serious complications, like rectal bleeding, anemia, deteriorating bowel function, bowel obstruction, fistulas, peritonitis, shock, malnutrition and problems with growth in children. It can also increase the risk of getting colorectal cancer. It is estimated that 600,000 people in the United States have either Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.