If you’re experiencing symptoms like stomach pain, diarrhea and blood in the stool, you could be suffering from Inflammatory Bowel Disease.
Leonard Baidoo, MD, a gastroenterologist at Regional One Health, can help patients reach an accurate diagnosis and the optimal treatment for their condition.
Dr. Baidoo is a world-renowned specialist in the treatment of IBD, taking a comprehensive approach that can include medication, lifestyle changes and minimally invasive surgery.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease can have a significant impact on quality of life. Symptoms like severe stomach pain, diarrhea and fatigue make it hard to work and enjoy normal activities, and patients can feel like they’re missing out on life.
Leonard Baidoo, MD is a gastroenterologist at Regional One Health and world-renowned expert in treating IBD, which includes conditions like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Dr. Baidoo explained what patients need to know about seeking care for these conditions.
What causes IBD, and who is at risk?
IBD occurs when the intestines become inflamed, typically because the immune system attacks a virus, bacteria or something else.
Dr. Baidoo said it usually shows up when a patient is young, from the teens up through the 20s and 30s. It impacts men and women at equal rates and can affect people of any race.
There is a genetic link in some cases: “About one in three patients diagnosed with IBD does have a family history of the condition,” Dr. Baidoo said.
He said other risk factors can include smoking, stress and overuse of some medications such as antibiotics or ibuprofen.
When should I see a doctor?
Symptoms of IBD include abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss, fatigue and blood in the stool. The latter is a classic sign, and should prompt a patient to seek medical care, Dr. Baidoo said: “If you’re seeing blood in your stool, see your doctor. It’s not normal to see blood in your stool, so don’t waste time when that occurs.”
Dr. Baidoo said symptoms are slightly different for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
Ulcerative colitis causes cramping, diarrhea with a feeling of urgency, fever, poor appetite and weight loss. Crohn’s leads to constant pain, diarrhea with or without blood and significant weight loss.
How will my doctor diagnosis my condition?
Physicians use several tools to diagnose IBD.
Lab tests include a stool sample to test for infection and blood in the stool and a blood draw to test for blood loss and inflammation. Physicians may also use imaging like CT, MRI or ultrasound, and Dr. Baidoo said a colonoscopy is often used to reach a definitive diagnosis.
What can I expect from my treatment?
There are a number of medications on the market used to treat Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis. Dr. Baidoo said it is important to consider the severity of a patient’s symptoms and their specific diagnosis in prescribing medication.
“There are a lot of drug options for IBD, and you want to use the mildest effective treatment because there are side effects that grow increasingly significant with the more potent treatments,” he explained. “That is assessed when the patient is diagnosed.”
Lifestyle changes like quitting smoking, eating small frequent meals, cutting back on foods that trigger symptoms, and managing stress can also help.
Patients who don’t get relief from medication or who experience complications like scarring or a stricture may need surgery, Dr. Baidoo said. Again, he takes a conservative approach, focusing on the least invasive technique available and on removing as little of the bowel as possible.
“Typically, these surgeries can be done laparoscopically, which means smaller incisions and an easier recovery,” he said.
How can I get help?
If you’re experiencing symptoms associated with IBD, talk to your provider today.