MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL (05/17/2023) — May 19 marks World IBD Day—an annual day to raise awareness about Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). IBD is a chronic autoimmune condition that affects millions of people worldwide, causing inflammation and damage to the digestive tract.

Justin Howard, MD, with the University of Minnesota Medical School shares the importance of raising awareness of IBD.

Justin Howard, MD

“Approximately 7 million people around the world have inflammatory bowel disease, and the number of patients with ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are increasing each year. Inflammatory bowel disease causes significant symptoms that impact a patient’s daily life. Unfortunately, the diagnosis is often delayed and as a result, patients can end up struggling with symptoms for several months or even years. IBD responds best to treatment in the early stages of the disease, making it critical for patients and health care providers to be aware of IBD in order to help diagnose patients early so they can receive the treatment they need.”

“IBD consists of two major disorders: Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. These two disorders are different, but they do have significant overlap and can have similar treatments. The mainstay of these disorders is the presence of inflammation of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. For ulcerative colitis, this involves inflammation of the colon. For Crohn’s disease, this inflammation may be anywhere in the GI tract. Treatment is directed at decreasing the inflammation and allowing the GI tract to heal.

IBD is distinct from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The hallmark of IBS is abdominal pain that is associated with a change in frequency of bowel movements and/or a change in consistency of bowel movements. Though symptoms of IBS and IBD can be similar, the underlying cause is different. With IBS, there is no evidence of significant inflammation in the GI tract. Though these two disorders are distinct, they are not mutually exclusive. People with inflammatory bowel disease can also have IBS which itself can cause significant symptoms.. It is important to work with your GI provider to help figure out whether ongoing symptoms are due to untreated inflammation from IBD or whether symptoms could be due to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).”

Justin Howard, MD, is an associate professor at the U of M Medical School and gastroenterologist at M Health Fairview. He specializes in caring for patients with inflammatory bowel disease. Dr. Howard works closely with his patients to provide individualized care that incorporates not only the latest in medical and surgical treatment options, but also life-style and dietary modifications. 

Justin Howard, MD

Associate professor at the U of M Medical School

Contact: mednews@umn.edu

Download a high resolution photo of Dr. Howard.


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