Ulcerative colitis only affects the colon (large intestine), while Crohn’s disease can affect all of the digestive system, from the mouth to the anus.
The symptoms of both conditions are similar, including:
- pain, swelling or cramping in the tummy
- recurring or bloody diarrhoea
- weight loss
- extreme tiredness
Not everyone has all of these symptoms, and some people may experience additional symptoms, including vomiting, anaemia and high temperature or fever. Most patients will be diagnosed with IBD with a flexible camera inserted into the bowel called flexible sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy. This is carried out in our Endoscopy Department.
Your Care Team
If you are diagnosed with IBD, you will be under the care of a consultant and you may attend one of our two main IBD clinics. There is always a senior doctor in clinic if the consultant gastroenterologist is away. If you wish to see a particular doctor or the specialist nurse, please ask the clinic nurse who will arrange this if at all possible. Junior doctors in the clinic can readily obtain advice from the consultant. This is an essential part of their training to ensure we have suitably qualified and experienced doctors for the future.
You may see the IBD Specialist Nurse who can offer about any aspect of your illness and treatment. This could be at a clinic appointment, during a stay in hospital, or by phone or email. Our team also includes a Dietician who specialised in dietary and nutritional support in IBD and a hospital pharmacist who specialises in gastroenterology.
Colorectal Surgeons specialise in surgery of the bowel. Patients with IBD sometimes require surgical treatments if, for example, medical treatments have failed to control symptoms. We try to ensure that our IBD clinics run at the same time as the colorectal clinics. You may be able to be seen by both teams at the same visit.
Only a small number of IBD patients need a stoma, where the bowel is diverted out of the abdominal wall and into bag. Where this does become necessary, stoma care nurses can give information and support before and after surgery whilst also providing education about appliances and how to care for a stoma.
From time to time you may be offered the opportunity to participate in clinical research, including trials of new treatments for IBD. Currently available treatments do not always work as well as we would like, and we are constantly striving to offer better treatments and to improve our understanding of IBD. Participation in research is entirely voluntary and your normal care remains unaffected whether you take part or not. Please ask if you want to be involved in our research or if you would like more information about specific trials.
Patients can be referred to our service through their GPs.
IBD Advice Line
For particular concerns related to your condition or relapse in your condition, you can contact the advice line on 07791 089830.