Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

Our Approach to Care

Do you have IBD? You’re not alone. Inflammatory bowel disease affects more than 1.6 million Americans. Our doctors, including gastroenterology specialists, treat IBD in both adults and children. The providers at MaineHealth know how IBD can affect your quality of life. They help patients manage their chronic IBD symptoms, so they can lead full and productive lives.

IBD, or inflammatory bowel disease, affects part or all of the digestive tract. IBD disorders are autoimmune diseases that can harm the GI tract. With autoimmune diseases, a person’s immune system attacks the body – in this case, the GI tract.

Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis

Although IBD refers to a group of diseases, IBD symptoms for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are similar. They include:

  • Stomach pain
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Bleeding from the rectum
  • Cramps
  • Low-grade fever
  • Weight loss without dieting

See your provider if you are having IBD symptoms, or if you have a change in bowel habits that does not go away. There is no cure for, but treatment can help improve symptoms and help prevent IBD complications.

Crohn’s disease is a form of IBD that affects the lining of the digestive tract.

Crohn’s disease most often affects the end of the small bowel and the beginning of the colon, but it can occur anywhere along the digestive tract.

Ulcerative colitis is a type of IBD that causes inflammation in the lining of the colon, or large intestine. 

Most people with IBD are diagnosed before the age of 35.

IBD tends to run in families.

Researchers believe that the environment may have a role in triggering IBD.

Cigarette smokers have a higher risk of Crohn’s disease than nonsmokers.

IBD complications include bowel obstruction, ulcers, and malnutrition.

Having Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis for eight years or more increases the chance of developing colorectal cancer.

IBD Screenings

  • Blood tests
  • Fecal occult blood test (providing a stool sample for testing)
  • Colonoscopy
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy
  • Upper GI endoscopy
  • Capsule endoscopy
  • Double balloon endoscopy
  • X-ray
  • CT scan
  • MRI
  • Small bowel imaging

Treatment for IBD may include diet and lifestyle changes, drug therapy and sometimes surgery. Treatment goals are to stop flare-ups (inflammation) and to achieve remission.