Frequently Asked Questions

Does diet affect IBD?

Diet alone is not effective in treating Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis. However, it is important that patients with IBD have a well-balanced diet. Calcium is important to protect bones. Fibre may not be tolerated during flare ups. Certain vitamins (for example, B12) may be required. Selected patients may sometimes be helped by a registered dietitian.


How is IBD different than IBS?

Although both illnesses can be seriously debilitating, there are several primary differences between Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).  IBD is an autoimmune disorder that causes swelling and ulcerations (sores) in the bowel.  IBS involves problems with motility (how the bowel moves contents through our intestines) and sensitivity (how the brain interprets sensations in the bowel). Symptoms of IBS may wax and wane and possibly disappear altogether whereas IBD is a chronic condition.


I’ve been told that I have Barrett’s Esophagus. Does this mean I will develop esophageal cancer?

Sometimes the cells at the lower end of the esophagus are replaced by glandular cells resembling those of the stomach and small intestine. This change is referred to as Barrett’s esophagus. This disorder is believed to increase the risk of developing esophageal cancer.  It can be controlled with medications.  You need to carefully monitor the status of the cells in your esophagus to minimize the likelihood of developing cancer.


I am having trouble swallowing. Do I have esophageal cancer?

There could be several reasons why you are having trouble swallowing.  This could be an indication of serious illness.  Trouble swallowing should always be investigated by your physician.


Does diet affect Crohn's or IBD?

Diet alone is not effective in treating Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis. However, it is important that patients with IBD have a well-balanced diet. Calcium is important to protect bones. Fibre may not be tolerated during flare ups. Certain vitamins (for example, B12) may be required. Selected patients may sometimes be helped by a registered dietitian.


How is Crohn's or IBD different than IBS?

Although both illnesses can be seriously debilitating, there are several primary differences between Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).  IBD is an autoimmune disorder that causes swelling and ulcerations (sores) in the bowel.  IBS involves problems with motility (how the bowel moves contents through our intestines) and sensitivity (how the brain interprets sensations in the bowel). Symptoms of IBS may wax and wane and possibly disappear altogether whereas IBD is a chronic condition.


I have heard that H. Pylori can cause cancer. Is this true?

H. pylori infection is considered to be a carcinogen by the World Health Organization as it is associated with the development of stomach cancer. Medications for treating H. pylori are 80 — 90% effective.


What are the complications of ulcers?

There are three main complications that can result from peptic ulcers. 

1) Bleeding: Bleeding may be the first symptom and of an ulcer. Bleeding ulcers can cause vomiting of red blood or black coffee ground like material.  If the blood passes out through the bowel, you may have black bowel movements. If there is a lot of bleeding both black and red stool may be passed.  When an ulcer continues to bleed without treatment, you may become weak and anemic.

2) Obstruction: An ulcer can cause an obstruction or blockage of the stomach or duodenum. This may be due to acute swelling from the inflamed ulcer. With long standing ulcers, there can be healing with scarring that leads to the blockage. Patients with obstruction may have problems with filling up quickly when eating, nausea, and vomiting. 

3) Perforation: Rarely ulcers may create a hole in the lining of the stomach or duodenum and result in a perforation.  If this happens, you will experience sudden, severe abdominal pain. 

It is always important to contact your doctor immediately if your symptoms worsen.


Is it safe to take proton pump inhibitors long-term?

Proton pump inhibitors have been used for many years. They all have excellent safety profiles.  In rare cases, individuals can experience problems with headaches, diarrhea and rash. Always speak to your doctor about any side effects, new symptoms or questions you have related to your treatment.  There was some question about whether or not long term use of proton pump inhibitors increase the risk of bone fractures.  This concern has not been substantiated.


Can H. pylori infection be prevented?

No one knows for sure how H. pylori spreads, so prevention is difficult. There are currently no human vaccines available to protect against H. pylori infections.


Enhancing lifelong health

The Canadian Digestive Health Foundation believes our ability to help establish, enrich and protect a healthy gut microbiota is the key to lifelong health

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