Top 9 Risk Factors for IBD

Medically reviewed by: Gary H. Hoffman, MD

IBD, or Inflammatory Bowel Disease, can encompass a number of digestive problems, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. IBD can also cause health problems like diarrhea, abdominal cramps, rectal bleeding and fatigue. There is not necessarily one distinct cause for IBD, but there are a number of risk factors. Here are the top nine risk factors to be aware of in the development of IBD in Culver City.

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1. Age

Age seems to be a factor because a lot of people have an early onset of IBD. There are many patients with IBD that are around 50 or 60 years old, but a lot of young adults and even children are diagnosed with IBD as well. Most of the time the symptoms of IBD will start to manifest when people become young adults. There is not necessarily an environmental cause for IBD, but this does lead researchers to believe that genetics and family history are a factor.

2. Medication

It is known that certain medications can exacerbate the symptoms of IBD in some cases, but there is no medication that is known to cause the illness itself. It has been noted that drugs like accutane, ibuprofen, and certain oral contraceptives can increase the likelihood of IBD or worsen the symptoms in some cases.

3. Diet

Diet is not necessarily a determining factor, but it seems that people with high fat diets or diets that include a lot of animal proteins may be at a higher risk for developing IBD.

4. Location

Location seems to play a role in IBD because it has been shown that people in Western countries like the UK and US have higher rates of the illness whereas it is not nearly as common in Asian countries like China, Japan, and Korea. The location seems to contribute a complex number of risk factors involving the diet, pollution and smoke, but there is not one reason why it could cause IBD.

5. Family History

Family history plays a significant role in IBD because there are roughly 30 genes associated with the illness. The mere presence of the genes does not necessarily mean that a person will have IBD because environmental factors also play a large role in triggering the onset of IBD.

6. Ethnicity

Researchers have noticed that people of European descent seem to have a higher rate of IBD than other ethnicities. It also seems that certain symptoms can be more prevalent in certain racial groups than others.

7. Appendectomy

It has been noticed that people who have had an appendectomy seem to be at a lower risk for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis due to changes in immune function after the operation. They have only noticed benefits in people that had the surgery before they began to manifest IBD symptoms, so it will not help to get the surgery once you have been diagnosed.

8. Bacteria

The presence of certain bacteria in the colon could help contribute to IBD. Bacteria are a natural part of the colon and most of the bacteria promote a healthy digestive system, but the harmful bacteria can cause problems.

9. Smoking

It is already known that smoking can cause a number of health problems, but it can actually aggravate these types of digestive problems too. People with Crohn’s disease are encouraged to stop smoking immediately because smoking can intensify the symptoms and prolong the illness.

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