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What is Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)?

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is a blanket term that consists of Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis (U.C.). Both disease states can present similarly as they involve ongoing inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract that can lead to ulcers of the colon. However, there are key differences between the two conditions involving the depth and location of the ulcers.

Ulcerative Colitis is a chronic inflammatory condition that affects the lower portion of the large intestine, specifically the rectum and colon. The inflammation only occurs on the inner most lining of the intestinal wall.

Crohn’s Disease is a chronic inflammatory condition that can affect any part of the GI tract (mouth to anus). The inflammation may extend through the entire thickness of the intestinal wall.

What causes IBD?

The exact cause of Crohn’s Disease and U.C. is not fully understood. However, the following factors are believed to play a role in these conditions:

  • Autoimmune (inappropriate immune system response to healthy tissue of the GI tract)
  • Genetic (family history)
  • Environmental Factors (such as smoking)

How is IBD diagnosed?

Crohn’s disease and U.C. are diagnosed via a series of lab tests (blood and stool samples), endoscopic procedures, and imaging (e.g., x-ray, MRI, CT scan).

For both UC and CD, symptoms may present as abdominal pain and cramping, persistent diarrhea, fever, rectal bleeding, loss of appetite, weight loss, or low energy. UC may also present as a sudden or constant urge to move your bowels. Crohn’s Disease may also cause a loss of normal menstrual cycle, constipation, or night sweats.

How is IBD treated?

IBD conditions are lifelong conditions that cannot be cured. Untreated, flare-ups are unpredictable and can negatively impact your quality of life. With medication and a healthy lifestyle/diet, symptoms can be managed overtime. No specific diet has been shown to make IBD symptoms better or worse. Specific food problems may vary from person to person. However, certain types of foods can make diarrhea and gas worse.

To help ease symptoms, try:

  • Eating small amounts of food throughout the day.
  • Drinking plenty of water (drink small amounts often throughout the day).
  • Avoiding high-fiber foods (bran, beans, nuts, seeds, and popcorn).
  • Avoiding fatty, greasy, or fried foods and sauces (butter, margarine, and heavy cream).
  • Limiting dairy products if you have problems digesting dairy fats or trying low lactose products and enzyme products to break down lactose.
  • Avoiding foods that you know cause gas, such as beans.

Treatment options for IBD are prescribed to induce and maintain remission, while preventing and treating further complications. You may be prescribed 5-Aminosalicylates, corticosteroids, systemic immunosuppressants, antibiotics, or biologics. Specialty medications (biologics) may be prescribed to be used in conjunction with other medications available through your retail pharmacy and/or over the counter (non-prescription) treatments.

You and your health care provider will discuss the best treatment plan for you based on the severity of your symptoms and your medical history. In some cases, surgical procedures are also warranted.

How can a specialty pharmacy help?

Kroger Specialty Pharmacy's total life care programs set a clear path to caring, compassionate therapy management and support.

We are here to provide patients, providers, and partners with the necessary coordination of care vital to achieving successful treatment outcomes. Our team of patient care experts comprised of pharmacists, nurses, reimbursement specialists, and dedicated Patient Care Coordinators (PCCs) work together to offer our patients and partners with individualized care. During treatment, KSP offers ongoing patient evaluation and clinical support including frequent patient follow-up and continual education.

What are some support resources?

Please also refer to the manufacturer’s website for your prescribed medication(s).