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Inflammatory Bowel Disease Specialist

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Inflammatory Bowel Disease services offered in Richmond, Colonial Heights, Midlothian, N. Chesterfield, Short Pump, Henrico and Mechanicsville, VA

IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) consists of several similar conditions, primarily ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. At their eight offices in Richmond, Colonial Heights, Chesterfield, Henrico, and Mechanicsville, Virginia, the Richmond Gastroenterology Associates team provides exceptional care for patients with IBD. The highly skilled gastroenterologists have years of experience helping people manage their IBD and lead long, fulfilled lives. To benefit from their expertise, call Richmond Gastroenterology Associates today or book an appointment online. 

Inflammatory Bowel Disease Q & A

What is IBD?

IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) is a chronic condition causing inflammation along all or part of your digestive tract.

The exact cause isn’t clear, but it’s most likely that a genetic predisposition combines with an environmental trigger that causes your body’s immune system to overreact. The health of your gut microbiome (the beneficial bacteria that live in your gastrointestinal system) might also play a part.

Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are the primary inflammatory bowel diseases. Ulcerative colitis affects your large intestine (colon) and rectum. Crohn’s disease can cause symptoms anywhere along your digestive tract, from your mouth to your anus, but is most common in the small and large intestines.

What symptoms does IBD cause?

IBD symptoms range from mild to severe. Many patients experience flare-ups when symptoms worsen and periods of remission when symptoms improve and even disappear.

IBD symptoms common to ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Bloody stools
  • Pus and mucus in the stools
  • Abdominal pain
  • Weight loss
  • Fever
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Eyes, skin, and joint inflammation
  • Urgent need for bowel movements

Ulcerative colitis is more likely to cause tenesmus (the urge to push even when your rectum is empty), fecal incontinence, and disabling rectal pain.

Crohn’s disease patients are more prone to developing anal fissures (tears in the anus), fistulas (unnatural openings between your intestines and other tissues), and abscesses. Malnutrition is also more likely because your body can’t extract nutrients well (malabsorption).

IBD also increases your risk of colorectal cancer.

How is IBD diagnosed?

IBD symptoms are often like those of other gastrointestinal disorders, particularly colorectal cancer. One of the best ways to confirm the cause of your symptoms is to have a colonoscopy.

A colonoscope is a camera and light on a flexible pipe. Your Richmond Gastroenterology Associates provider inserts the instrument into your rectum and carefully feeds it along the length of your colon. You’ll have a sedative to ensure you feel relaxed, and the procedure shouldn’t be painful.

Your provider views the images sent back from the colonoscope on a screen. If they see any abnormalities, they can take tissue samples for lab analysis.

How is IBD treated?

Your Richmond Gastroenterology Associates doctor begins by prescribing anti-inflammatory medicines like mesalamine. If there’s any infection present, you might need antibiotics as well.

If your IBD symptoms persist or return, you might benefit from stronger anti-inflammatories like prednisone (a steroid medication). The most severe or treatment-resistant IBD might require immunosuppressant medication to reduce your immune system’s overactivity.

Newer drugs called biologics can also help with moderate to severe IBD. These medications target proteins in your immune system that increase inflammation and block their activity.

To confirm a diagnosis or find better treatments for IBD, call Richmond Gastroenterology Associates today or book an appointment online.