Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a condition that causes ongoing inflammation of the intestines. The condition can affect only the large intestine (ulcerative colitis) or any part of the entire digestive tract, from the mouth to the anus (Crohn's disease).
Symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease may include abdominal pain, frequent diarrhea that may contain blood or pus, fever, chills, weight loss, and fatigue. The condition may be mild or severe. The inflammation can also affect other parts of the body, such as the eyes or joints, and may cause a form of arthritis.
Inflammatory bowel disease may recur many times in a person's life. It is treated with medicines and sometimes with diet changes. If the disease is in remission (not causing symptoms), treatment may not be needed, although medicines may help keep the disease in remission. A severe attack may require that the person be hospitalized for treatment. In some cases, surgery may be needed.
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) increases the risk of colon cancer. The amount of increased risk depends on the type of inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease of the colon), how much of the intestine is involved, and how long you have been ill. The cancer risk usually does not increase until you have had IBD for 8 years or longer.