Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a chronic condition that encompasses disorders like Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, affecting millions of individuals worldwide. While the primary symptoms often revolve around the gastrointestinal tract, IBD can also have far-reaching consequences throughout the body. "IBD comes with potential complications and extraintestinal manifestations, underscoring the need for thorough care and management," says Sujaata R. Dwadasi, MD, Gastroenterology at ARC Northwest Hills Specialty. "It's all about taking a comprehensive approach to deal with these issues."
Some of these complications can include:
- Malnutrition: One of the predominant challenges individuals with IBD face is anemia and nutrient deficiency. IBD's impact on the digestive system, characterized by inflammation and damage, compromises the absorption of vital nutrients. This malabsorption can result in deficiencies in essential vitamins and minerals, posing a direct threat to overall health. "Dealing with these nutritional challenges is key to keeping up a healthy daily routine," advises Dr. Dwadasi. "It really highlights how personalized nutrition plans and careful management play a crucial role in lessening the negative effects of malnutrition in people with IBD."
- Pregnancy: It is important that IBD patients planning to be pregnant or who are pregnant consult their IBD physician to make sure that the proper monitoring is in place during this time. Studies have shown that remission at the time of pregnancy has the best outcomes. We also have more research regarding pregnancy and IBD medical therapies, many of which are safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
- Eyesight: IBD can affect the eyes, leading to inflammation, redness, and discomfort. Conditions such as uveitis and episcleritis are more prevalent in individuals with IBD.
- Joint problems: Arthritis and joint pain are common extraintestinal manifestations of IBD. Inflammation can affect the joints, leading to discomfort and reduced mobility.
- Kidney issues: In some cases, IBD can contribute to kidney complications, such as kidney stones.
- Liver involvement: Liver complications, including fatty liver disease and primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC), are potential concerns for individuals with IBD.
- Oral health: IBD can contribute to issues like canker sores, gum disease, mouth ulcers, and cavities. Maintaining good oral hygiene and regular dental check-ups are crucial to managing oral health complications.
- Skin conditions: IBD can manifest in various skin conditions, such as rashes and psoriasis. Skin manifestations often parallel disease activity in the gastrointestinal tract.
- Higher risk of colon cancer: Long-standing inflammation in this part of the GI tract poses a significant threat to both colon health and the overall well-being of individuals with IBD. Proactive management and preservation of gut health are key.
"Managing IBD involves understanding and dealing with potential issues beyond just the digestive system," says Dr. Dwadasi. "It's crucial to keep an eye on things, step in early when needed, and always put the patient at the center of the approach. This way, we can ensure that those living with IBD can maintain a good quality of life."
Make an appointment
Treatment for IBD usually involves medications to control inflammation, lifestyle changes, and, in some cases, surgery. If you would like to learn more about treatment options, visit us at ARC Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Program.
Dr. Dwadasi accepts new patients, ages 18 and older. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Dwadasi, call ARC Northwest Hills Specialty at 512-344-0450.