Types of Inflammatory Bowel Disease

The term Inflammatory Bowel Disease or IBD is used to describe conditions where the digestive tract is chronically inflamed. The two main types of IBD are Mucosal Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease. Mucosal Ulcerative Colitis causes inflammation and ulcers (sores) in the lining of the large intestine and the rectum. Crohn’s disease can cause inflammation in any part of the gastrointestinal tract, but mostly affects the small intestine or colon. When there is severe inflammation, and the person is experiencing symptoms, the disease is in an active stage. When there is less or no inflammation and the person is experiencing no symptoms, the disease in remission.


The causes of IBD are unknown. Possible causes include immune system malfunction where the immune system attacks cells in the digestive tract when trying to fight off bacteria or a virus. Genetics may play a role as well

Symptoms and signs 

Symptoms can include but are not limited to:

  • Severe diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Urgency to have a bowel movement


There are several different tests a doctor may use to diagnose IBD. The results, in addition to the symptoms, are reviewed to come up with a diagnosis.

  • Stool exam
  • Complete blood count
  • Blood tests for inflammation markers
  • CT scan, MRI or ultrasound
  • Colonoscopy
  • Upper or capsule endoscopy


As IBD is sometimes hereditary, it cannot be prevented but, if you eat a healthy diet and exercise daily, you may be able to reduce the risk of developing it. Also, eating well and exercising is key in preventing a relapse if you already have an IBD.

Foods to eat when the disease is in an active stage (in a flare): 

Foods can make a big difference during a flare and will keep the disease in remission longer if the proper diet is followed. 

  • Low fiber fruits such as bananas and melons
  • Lean protein such as fish, white meat, eggs and tofu
  • White rice or white pasta
  • Oatmeal 
  • Gluten-free bread, potato bread, or sourdough bread
  • Fully cooked vegetables

Foods to avoid when in a flare:

Some foods should be avoided as much as possible during a flare to keep symptoms at bay. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Leafy vegetables
  • Sugary foods
  • Dairy
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Spicy foods

Foods to eat when in remission

To keep the disease in remission eat more of these foods:

  • Fiber
  • Protein
  • Calcium
  • Probiotics
  • Fruits and vegetables


Treatment of IBD begins with prescribing anti-inflammatory drugs, the least harmful drugs first, and if those don’t give relief, stronger drugs are used. Immune system suppressor drugs are used to stop the inflammation. Sometimes a combination of the suppressor drugs works better than just one. Antibiotics are sometimes added when there is a possibility of infection. Over-the-counter medications and supplements may also be recommended by your doctor. If diet, exercise, and drug therapy are unable to keep symptoms under control, surgery may be the next step. 


Either Crohn’s Disease or Mucosal Ulcerative Colitis may require surgery. Surgical decision-making can be very complicated and it is best to consult with a colon and rectal surgeon. Nevada Surgery and Cancer Care can provide all the latest procedures for these two diseases including restorative proctocolectomy, laparoscopic surgery, and robotic surgery. Please see the Crohns and Colitis Foundation website for more details.