Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is a collective term for a group of conditions characterised by inflammation of the intestine. The two most common forms are ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn’s Disease (CD). IBD is thought to affect up to 240,000 people in the UK. (Mowhat 2011; Bardhan 2010)

Ulcerative Colitis (UC)

Ulcerative Colitis (UC) is a chronic relapsing and remitting condition affecting the large bowel (colon) and rectum. The condition causes inflammation and ulceration of the bowel lining (mucosa layers of the rectum and colon), resulting in symptoms such as bloody diarrhoea, abdominal pain or cramping, rectal bleeding and an urgent need to go to the bathroom. These flare-ups can vary in duration and intensity. It's estimated that around 243 people per 100,000 of the population in the UK have ulcerative colitis. (Mowhat 2011; Bardhan 2010)

Crohn’s Disease

Crohn’s Disease is a chronic life-long condition that causes inflammation of the digestive system or gut. Crohn’s can affect any part of the gut, from the mouth to the back passage, but most commonly occurs in the last section of the small intestine (ileum) or the large intestine (colon). Common symptoms can include diarrhoea, abdominal pain, fatigue (extreme tiredness), unintended weight loss, blood and mucus in faeces (stools). Crohn's Disease is a less common condition and is estimated that around 145 people per 100,000 of the population are living with the condition in the UK. (Mowhat 2011; Bardhan 2010)

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a chronic, functional, relapsing and often life-long gastrointestinal disorder that can significantly affect quality of life 1,2

IBS is characterised by:1

  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Change in bowel habit

The overall prevalence of IBS in the UK is estimated as 10-20%1. It has a greater impact on patient quality of life than many other gastrointestinal disorders and even diabetes and renal failure3.
Symptoms of IBS usually occur in a relapsing and remitting manner4. Irritable Bowel Syndrome can be subtyped according to the predominant stool form:5

  • IBS with constipation (IBS-C)
    ≥25% hard  stools, <25% loose stools
  • IBS with diarrhoea (IBS-D)
    ≥25% loose stools, <25% hard stools
  • IBS-mixed (IBS-M)
    Both hard and loose stools

IBS References:

  1. NICE clinical guideline 61, 2015; (accessed April 2015).
  2. Lackner JM, et al. Am J Gastroenterol 2014; 109: 1815-1823.
  3. Gralnek IM, et al. Gastroenterology 2002; 119: 654-660
  4. Spiller R, et al. Gut 2007; 56: 1770-1798
  5. Longstreth GF, et al. Gastroenterology 2006; 130: 1480-1491