Presented by Bharati Kochar, MD, MSCR, Department of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC)

Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) are chronic inflammatory conditions that strike the gastrointestinal tract. They include both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. This educational webinar addresses current knowledge on IBD, including what it is, how it is diagnosed, and who it affects. The webinar also provides an overview of the currently available therapeutic options for treating IBD and highlights the current research on immunosuppressive therapy for IBD.

Fast Facts from the Webinar

1. Don’t mistake inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

They are not the same, although the two conditions are commonly confused. IBD is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract and other systemic symptoms. IBS is not an autoimmune condition and does not cause inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. It involves GI upset and symptoms like constipation, diarrhea, and bloating with no clear physical cause.

2. There is no single cause of IBD

IBD is caused by many factors, such as immune system disturbances (overactive immune response), gut microbiome disturbances, and environmental triggers. The “hygiene hypothesis” is one possibility. It suggests that limited exposure to germs changes the balance of the immune system and can lead to autoimmune diseases such as IBD. There is also a genetic component to IBD, but more research is needed to understand what combinations of factors can cause IBD.

3. There are different kinds of IBD remission: symptomatic remission, endoscopic remission and histological remission.

  •  Symptomatic remission means that a patient may not be experiencing any symptoms from their IBD any longer. Just because someone is not experiencing symptoms does not mean they do not have the disease and, therefore, should not stop treatment. Although a patient is not experiencing symptoms, lab tests and imaging results may still show persistent inflammation in the GI tract requiring continued treatment.
  • Endoscopic remission means that during a scope, such as a colonoscopy or a sigmoidoscopy, no inflammation is seen.
  • Histological remission means that when a biopsy is repeated there is no evidence of inflammation seen in the intestines. This would be accompanied by endoscopic remission.

4. A colonoscopy can indicate inflammation in the colon

If this is the case, a biopsy may be recommended to determine whether the cause of inflammation is indeed inflammatory bowel disease. A biopsy can help determine whether you have Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis (UC).

5. There are a number of medications available to treat Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

Many of these medications change the way the immune system works.

The Patient Perspective

Here’s what patient participants said they learned from this webinar:

  • “I learned the difference between IBD and IBS and about some of the medications used to treat these diseases. By the way, I really appreciate that your information is not too ‘watered down.’ In the name of making it ‘understandable,’ so many doctors, including mine, simplify way too much.” — Janet D., patient participant
  • “Many bowel diseases or problems can have parallel symptoms. Also it is here forever like diabetes, but we have help for controlling the symptoms. It was very informative.” — Judy P., patient participant

About the Presenter

Bharati Kochar, MD, MSCR, is an Instructor of Medicine in the Department of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC.

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