What is Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)?
IBD typically develops after your immune system reacts to environmental triggers, leading to inflammation and symptoms such as diarrhoea or constipation, blood in your stool and decreased appetite.
- Ulcerative Colitis (UC) can be classified as a form of inflammatory bowel diseases.
- It is an autoimmune disease, which means it’s a result of a problem in your immune system.
- The symptoms can include abdominal pain (tummy), diarrhoea, and blood or mucus found in your poo (poop).
- There are treatments available to reduce inflammation, treat symptoms and prevent complications.
Symptoms tend to fluctuate, with periods without them present (known as remission). Complications associated with C. diff can include fistulae (tunnels that form under the skin connecting an infected rectum to an anus), intestinal obstruction, and fistulas.
Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis (IBD) are digestive tract inflammation conditions, often lifelong conditions with periods of symptoms (known as flare-ups) and remissions. Their causes remain unknown but genetics and environmental factors could play a part in its manifestation. (1)
People living with IBD may experience symptoms including abdominal pain, diarrhoea, fatigue and weight loss. Furthermore, their risk for colon cancer increases substantially.
IBD can often be mistaken for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), yet they are two distinct conditions. While IBS involves problems with motility, while IBD involves inflammation of the intestines.
Doctors diagnose IBD by considering both symptoms and tests. Tests include blood work, stool samples, abdominal x-rays and colonoscopies (a long, flexible tube equipped with a camera for colonoscopic observation). Because symptoms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease can resemble other health conditions, more tests may be required before doctors can make their diagnosis.
What causes ulcerative colitis?
Treatment can be helpful, even though there is no cure.
- Treat your symptoms
- Reduce your inflammation
- Prevent complications (2)
Medicines used to treat inflammation in UC include
Medications that suppress your immunity
Your doctor or specialist might also recommend that you avoid certain foods and additives.
It may be recommended that you take a nutritional supplement to:
- Vitamin A
To keep healthy consider:
- Avoiding foods that worsen your symptoms
- Stress relief by exercising regularly
- Learning some relaxation techniques to help manage stress
- Joining a support group
The following are some of the most effective ways to reduce your risk.
Your doctor may suggest surgery to remove the colon if your UC is severe or does not respond to medications. The end of your small intestinal tract is used to create a pouch inside your body. This pouch is directly connected to your anus.
A temporary or permanent Stoma is another option. It is an artificial opening that you can create in your abdominal wall to divert faeces into a bag. Although it’s natural to be uncomfortable with the idea of a stoma in your abdomen, you will find that this can improve your quality of life.
Treatment of Inflammatory Bowel Disease
If you’re suffering from abdominal pain and diarrhoea, you might assume it’s just IBS; however, these could be symptoms of an inflammatory bowel disorder (IBD). IBD involves inflammation in one part of your digestive tract which differs from that seen with IBS.
Treatment aims at reducing inflammation, inducing remission, and avoiding complications. Physicians may utilise medications or even surgery.
As mentioned anti-inflammatory medications, such as aminosalicylates such as mesalamine (Delzicol, Rowasa), balsalazide (Colazal) and olsalazine (Dipentum), may provide temporary relief; otherwise your doctor might suggest corticosteroids for fast acting anti-inflammatory treatment that could quickly bring on remission.
Dietary changes can also help. Many people living with IBD find their symptoms, including bloating and diarrhoea, improve by restricting dairy products. If lactose intolerant, enzyme products could help break down milk sugar; omega-3 fatty acids found in flax seeds or oily fish could provide additional support and ease symptoms.
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Crohn's Disease Syndrome
Crohn’s disease symptoms can include diarrhoea containing blood or pus, abdominal pain, fatigue and feeling unwell. People living with this condition can also be susceptible to other medical issues like anaemia, arthritis and fatty liver disease (hepatitis). (1)
Crohn’s disease causes inflammation to the entire digestive tract from mouth to anus, usually involving the last section of small intestine (ileum and colon). Sometimes this inflammation spreads throughout its entirety and impacts all layers of bowel wall thickness.
Medicine can assist in managing Crohn’s disease, but there is no known cure. Recent advances in medical and surgical treatment have improved quality of life for those living with this illness.
Doctors typically prescribe antidiarrheal medicines and fluid replacement, in addition to suggesting a special diet; avoidance of foods which cause flare-ups may help decrease symptoms; however, restricting entire food groups would likely result in malnutrition. Other treatments include drugs that reduce immune response responses in order to manage inflammation and avoid ulcers.
Crohn’s Disease Life Expectancy
Crohn’s disease can have serious adverse side effects, including abdominal pain and diarrhoea. Furthermore, inflammation along the gut lining prevents absorption of vitamins and minerals, leaving people fatigued and weak.
Long-term inflammation can lead to strictures in the small intestine, blocking food from travelling freely through its digestive tract and leading to nausea and vomiting. If this happens, a health emergency could arise and surgery may be required to correct it.
Inflammation can damage the surface of bowels, making them rough and sticky, leading to them adhering to other structures within the body, including other parts of the colon or abdominal organs, leading to abnormal openings (fistulas) that become infected and form pus-filled pockets called abscesses – usually found near an anus or abdominal wall. Fistulas can occur anywhere on their bodies but most commonly near an anus and within abdominal walls.
‘Life expectancy in patients with IBD increased between 1996 and 2011 (females: from 75.5 to 78.4 yr, difference: 2.9 yr [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.3 to 4.5]; males: from 72.2 to 75.5 yr, difference: 3.2 yr [95% CI 2.1 to 4.4]). Between 1996 and 2008, health-adjusted life expectancy decreased among males by 3.9 years (95% CI 1.2 to 6.6).’ (3)
They also went on to suggest that while life expectancy among those with IBD has increased, there is still a significant gap between the two. The effect of pain on everyday functioning also contributes to a reduced health-adjusted lifespan, which suggests that better pain mitigation strategies need to be implemented. (3)
Online Consultations and Treatments by Medical Cannabis Doctors
Our online consultation and treatment services offer you the convenience of virtual medical medicinal cannabis doctors. Our team of dedicated professionals is committed to providing accessible and personalised care to patients seeking medical marijuana treatment.
Virtual consultations allow you to discuss your medical history, symptoms and treatment goals in the privacy of your home with our doctors. The virtual platform provides privacy and convenience by eliminating the need for an in-person visit.
Our doctors will guide you through this process, whether you are seeking medical cannabis to treat chronic pain, anxiety or any other condition that qualifies. They will determine your eligibility, make dosage recommendations and monitor your progress.
Online consultation and treatment services ensure that you get the support and care you need. Our virtual medical cannabis doctors can help you improve your quality-of-life through safe and effective treatments.
Disclaimer: CannaTelehealth is not promoting the use of medicinal cannabis. Medicinal cannabis does affect every person differently, due to factors such as size, weight, health, dosage, tolerance and age. Medicinal cannabis might not work for you, and you might experience side-effects. Information provided by CannaTelehealth is for educational and informational purposes only. For medical advice, please refer to your doctor. Medicinal cannabis in Australia is regulated by the Therapeutic Goods Administration and details about cannabis as a scheduled drug can be found on their website.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Medicinal Cannabis considered a treatment option?
Whilst there are studies that support the use of medicinal cannabis with those diagnosed with IBS there is no cure. Medicinal Cannabis offers patients symptom relief of pain and potential harmful effects of stress on the body.
Cannabis use may decrease inpatient healthcare utilisation in IBS patients. These effects could possibly be through the effect of cannabis on the endocannabinoid system. (4)
Other studies have reported that cannabis is thought to act in the gastrointestinal tract through Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which binds to G-protein coupled cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2. These alter gut motility and colonic tone by lowering the presynaptic release of excitatory neurotransmitters, primarily acetylcholine and substance P, from myenteric neurons [11,15]. Placebo-controlled studies have shown that the use of dronabinol, a synthetic form of THC, is associated with reduced fasting colonic motility and tone in IBS patients .
In a further study by Brandt et al. they found that ‘cannabis use is associated with a lower use of endoscopic procedures, lower length of stay, and lower median total cost of hospitalisation. We posit that the lower use of endoscopy in cannabis users – and hence lower cost of hospitalisation – may be due to a lower symptomatic burden when compared to non-users’. (5)
Online Consultations and Treatments by Medical Cannabis Doctors
People living with IBD often lead full and active lives during periods of remission, even though the condition is permanent; with proper medical treatment and healthy lifestyle habits in place, life expectancies shouldn’t be compromised due to IBD.
Medication may help reduce inflammation and symptoms such as pain, nausea and diarrhoea. Some of these medications may also change appetite or cause adverse side effects.
People living with IBD should maintain a food diary to identify foods that cause flare-ups. Furthermore, they should choose healthy, nutrient-rich food options while staying hydrated through drinking enough water each day.
Those suffering from severe inflammation may require surgery to repair damaged sections of their bowel and install a stoma (a surgical opening that allows waste to leave without entering their bloodstream). Other procedures could involve extracting large sections, repairing blockages, strictures, abscesses or fistulas and creating fistulas.
People living with IBD frequently require medical appointments, and their illness may interfere with work activities. They may require time off work or request flexible working arrangements in order to accommodate disease flare-ups or the frequent need to use the bathroom.
- Distinct patterns of naive, activated and memory T and B cells in blood of patients with ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease H. Rabe, 1 M. Malmquist, 2 C. Barkman, 1 S. Östman, 1 I. Gjertsson, 3 R. Saalman, 2 and A. E. Wold 1 Clin Exp Immunol. 2019 Jul; 197(1): 111–129.
- https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/ulcerative-colitis#causes (Online Resource)
- Life expectancy and health-adjusted life expectancy in people with inflammatory bowel disease M. Ellen Kuenzig, PhD, Douglas G. Manuel, MD MSc, Jessy Donelle, MSc, and Eric I. Benchimol, MD PhD CMAJ. 2020 Nov 9; 192(45): E1394–E1402.
- Association Between Cannabis Use and Healthcare Utilization in Patients With Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Retrospective Cohort Study Monitoring Editor: Alexander Muacevic and John R Adler Parth Desai,1 Chimezie Mbachi,1 Ishaan Vohra,1 Miguel Salazar,1 Madhu Mathew,1 Tejinder Randhawa,1 Zohaib Haque,1 Yuchen Wang,1 Bashar Attar,2,3 and Isaac Paintsil1 Cureus. 2020 May; 12(5): e8008.
- An evidence-based position statement on the management of irritable bowel syndrome. Brandt LJ, Chey WD, Foxx-Orenstein AE, et al. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19521341/ Am J Gastroenterol. 2009;104:1–35. [PubMed]