Inflammatory Bowel Disease In Fibromyalgia


Inflammatory bowel disease in fibromyalgia is another gastrointestinal condition which fibromyalgia patients are more likely to suffer from.

What Is Inflammatory Bowel Disease?

More commonly known as IBD, inflammatory bowel disease involves different conditions. These conditions trigger inflammation of the digestive tract’s lining. The two main types of IBD are:

  • Ulcerative colitis – a condition wherein ulcers or sores develop within the inner linings of the colon and rectum.
  • Crohn’s disease – a condition involving swelling and inflammation of the lining of the digestive tract.

Both can lead to diarrhea, weight loss and severe abdomen pain. Eventually, the chronic inflammation can damage the digestive tract’s lining. These condition can lead to some serious health issues.

What Causes Inflammatory Bowel Disease?

Like fibromyalgia, the cause of IBD is still unknown. However, one theory suggests that IBD could be an autoimmune disease. A immune malfunction causes the immune system to attack the good cells in the digestive tract hence causing the inflammation. Although the cause remains a mystery, the identified risk factors of IBD include:

  • Being of Caucasian or Ashkenazi Jewish descent
  • Genetic disposition
  • Use of Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications
  • Smoking
  • Staying in an urban environment
  • Diet high in fat and refined food

Inflammatory Bowel Disease In Fibromyalgia

Studies show that people who have IBD, especially ulcerative colitis, are at high risk to developing fibromyalgia. In fact, about 30% of those who have ulcerative colitis are also suffering from fibromyalgia.

It is difficult to figure out the reason behind this link, especially since the conditions are not fully understood yet. However, if ulcerative colitis is a type of autoimmune disease, then it is understandable why the condition affects those with fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia patients are more likely to suffer from autoimmune diseases compared to those without fibromyalgia. In fact fibromyalgia itself had been thought to be an autoimmune condition. However, most experts agree that this may not be the case.

Many believe that the link between inflammatory bowel disease and fibromyalgia is stress. Those with fibromyalgia tend to live a very stressful life due to their struggle with pain. Excessive stress can lead to autoimmune diseases. Regardless of the reason, having fibromyalgia can make the pain of having IBD even worse.

Treatment and Diagnosis For IBD

The first step of treatment is to get diagnosed. Doctors use several methods in diagnosing the condition:

  • Blood test – to check if your body cells are still delivering enough oxygen. If they are not, it is a sign that something is wrong.
  • Fecal occult blood test – a stool sample test to check for blood in your stool.
  • Colonoscopy – if any of the above test indicate an abnormality, you need to undergo colonoscopy. There are various types of colonoscopy. Generally, the process involves insertion of a long and flexible tube with camera into the bowels to check for signs of inflammation.

The main treatment options include:

  • Anti-inflammatory prescription – this is often the first step of treatment to help reduce the inflammation in your bowels.
  • Immune suppressant prescription – in some cases, doctors may prescribe this class of drugs to lessen the activity of one’s immune system.

Doctors may also prescribe other types of drugs to help alleviate the symptoms of IBD. These include pain relievers, anti-diarrhea medications, antibiotic for infections and supplements such as iron, calcium and vitamin D.

If you are suffering from severe abdominal pains, see your doctor immediately. It may be a sign that you are suffering from Inflammatory Bowel disease in fibromyalgia.


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