Inflammatory bowel conditions

Chronic inflammatory bowel disease

The intestine is the largest immune organ in the body, comprising more than 70 % of all immune system cells:

  • The human intestine contains ten times more bacteria (about 400–500 species) than the hu-man body has cells.
  • In about 75 years of life, more than 30 tons of food and 50,000 litres of fluid pass through the stomach and intestines.
  • Half of the faeces consist of dead bacteria
  • During digestion, every day millions of different chemical substances must be analysed, toxic components detected and eliminated.
  • The total weight of the resident intestinal bacteria is about 1–2 kg.

Actually, these bacteria, rather than the intestinal mucosa, form the interface between the bowels and the external world.

Irregularities of digestive function are often regarded as a trifle, but are often the cause of serious diseases, such as chronic inflammatory bowel disease.

One in 2,000 German citizens suffers from a chronic inflammatory bowel disease. In most cases, the disease manifests for the first time at an ages of 15–35 years. For both diseases, a relapsing course is characteristic; less frequently, the disease is permanently active. Often, with increasing age the complaints abate. The number of active phases can change from year to year, and inactive periods may likewise last for many years.
Inflammation of the intestines affects the absorption of water, minerals and food ingredients. Fluid and protein are increasingly released into the intestine.

  • Crohn's disease (Latin: Morbus Crohn; named after the American physician B. Crohn) is an inflammation of the entire digestive tract.
  • Ulcerative colitis is limited to the colon and begins in the rectum. Especially the surface of the intestinal wall is inflamed in the form of small and larger ulcers.

Symptoms of inflammatory bowel diseases

  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhoea
  • Lassitude
  • Blood in stool
  • Anaemia
  • Fever
  • Weight loss

Inflammatory bowel disease can also lead to discomfort and inflammation outside of the intestine. This is called extra-intestinal manifestations. These primarily include joint pain (arthralgia) and joint inflammation (arthritis). But also inflammation of the iris (iridocyclitis) and other parts of the eye, reddish-blue nodules in the subcutaneous adipose tissue (erythema nodosum) and skin ulcers may occur, furthermore inflammation and scarring of the bile ducts with gall bladder outlet obstruction (primary sclerosing cholangitis).

Please note, however, that this information does not replace a detailed discussion with your doctor. Some information may also cause unnecessary fears. Please talk to your doctor about such concerns. And we explicitly encourage you to ask your doctor your questions, even very personal questions that cannot be answered by this information.

Please read the patient information leaflet carefully. If you have any further questions after reading it, please ask your doctor or pharmacist.