If you’re living with pain and complications caused by inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), you’re not alone. More than 30,000 people in the Greater Cincinnati area have a form of IBD—and that number is growing.
Even though IBD is not curable, it can be managed. But controlling harmful inflammation and getting ahead of IBD flares requires early, aggressive care from gastroenterologists
and other medical experts.
The Christ Hospital Health Network offers Cincinnati’s only dedicated IBD clinic. Our comprehensive program offers a full range of medical and support services designed to help you live well with IBD. These include the latest medical therapies, surgical treatments, clinical trials and wellness services including nutrition counseling.
Inflammatory bowel disease refers to several medical conditions that cause long-term inflammation in the digestive tract. This inflammation causes persistent symptoms including diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloody stools, fatigue or unplanned weight loss.
There are two main types of IBD:
- Crohn’s disease causes inflammation throughout the entire digestive tract. Even though it most commonly affects the colon or small intestine, inflammation can occur anywhere between the mouth and anus. Inflammation can also occur in patches, meaning some people have areas of damaged tissue in between sections of healthy tissue.
- Ulcerative colitis also causes inflammation and sores, but it only affects the colon and rectum. Tissue damage is continuous, meaning there aren’t any patches of healthy tissue left in the affected area.
Many people with IBD have episodes of disease flare-up followed by periods of remission (symptoms go away).
Sometimes, IBD affects other areas of the body. Inflammation can spread to the skin, eyes, joints or liver. People with IBD also have a higher risk of developing colorectal cancer
Without proper treatment, IBD can cause serious complications. These include:
- Bowel obstruction—a blockage in the small or large intestine that prevents food from passing through.
- Fistulas—deep, open sores that go all the way through the intestine wall.
- Malnutrition—the intestines can’t absorb nutrients properly, causing low levels of important vitamins and minerals.
- Perforated colon—the colon tears or develops a hole, causing bowel contents to leak into the abdomen.
- Toxic megacolon—the colon swells rapidly, increasing the risk of rupture.
At The Christ Hospital Health Network, our goals are to reduce the frequency and severity of your IBD flare-ups, and reduce your risk of complications. We offer a variety of treatments designed to help you feel as well as possible for as long as possible.
For some people, certain lifestyle change help calm symptoms and improve day-to-day living. These include:
- Reducing stress and finding effective ways to cope with it.
- Eliminating certain foods or beverages that trigger symptoms.
- Quitting smoking.
- Increasing exercise.
- Getting more sleep.
Prescription medicines are usually the first line of defense in treating Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. They include steroids and other anti-inflammatory drugs, immunosuppressants, antibiotics and biologics. Medicines may help:
- Reduce inflammation
- Manage pain
- Prevent intestinal bacterial growth
- Reduce the risk of infection
Colon and rectal surgery
can help prevent or fix IBD complications, especially in people who don’t respond well to medicine. Surgical treatments we offer include:
- Removing the damaged portions of the colon or rectum, then reattaching the healthy sections.
- Widening sections of the intestine that have become too narrow and may cause blockages.
- Removing the entire colon or rectum.
- Creating an artificial opening on the outside of the body that collects feces.
- Creating an internal pouch that collects feces, so patients can pass stool normally.
- Repairing fistulas.
- Draining infected sores.
Comprehensive care for a complex condition
Don’t let Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis define you. Instead, turn to the IBD clinic at The Christ Hospital Health Network. You’ll have access to the region’s most comprehensive medical services and other resources, including:
- A broad network of physicians who can help you manage widespread IBD complications. Our gastroenterologists work closely with doctors who specialize in ophthalmology, rheumatology and dermatology.
- Help identifying your triggers. Even though IBD flares can occur without warning, some get worse if you smoke, skip your medicines, eat certain foods or experience stress. We’ll help you figure out what foods or activities aggravate your symptoms.
- The latest clinical trials. Through our partnership with Cincinnati-based Consultants for Clinical Research, eligible patients who want to try experimental medicines can enroll in clinical studies.
- Cancer screening services. Because people with IBD have a higher risk of colorectal cancer, we’ll closely monitor your health with more frequent screening tests such as colonoscopies.
- Support services that are beneficial to many people with IBD, including nutrition counseling, smoking cessation and stress management tools from licensed psychologists.
- Seamless care transitions for teens with IBD who are ready to begin seeing an adult gastroenterologist.