IBD and liver disease. Often it is rare to have a liver disease without IBD and / or IBD without having liver disease and it is very important to remember that both are equally important. However, as I have experienced, my IBD has often been put to one side as the liver took priority leading up to and after having to have a liver transplant.
Firstly, what is IBD? IBD stands for Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is used to describe both Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Both diseases are long-term conditions that involve inflammation of the gut.
When you have both IBD and Liver Disease it is quite often very hard as a patient to distinguish which one is causing what problem during flare-ups or times of difficulties without the intervention of further tests and professional help.
A simple search using our good friend Mr Google tells me that the most common symptoms of Crohns and Colitis are:
Fever and fatigue.
Abdominal pain and cramping.
Blood in your stool.
Unintended weight loss.
After suffering from PSC for around 11 years and having several cholangitis attacks along the way, I can remember that the symptoms were very similar to that of a Crohns / Colitis flare up with the most common being fatigue, diarrhea, abdominal pain, reduced appetite and weight loss.
IBD and liver disease are normally treated separately. IBD by a Gastroenterologist or in the case of the liver, a Hepatologist. If one is not performing as well as the other, the person you are consulting will put their main focus on that part of the body at the time and, often the other part can be overlooked.
From my experience of having PSC and needing a liver transplant, the main focus for a long time has been the liver and this has kind of stuck with me as I have thought that if the liver gets better then I will be better. However, as IBD patients it is crucial that we have regular check-ups with our Gastroenterologist and our yearly colonoscopies.
Ignoring our bowels could lead to complications and more serious conditions later on. Neither a Gastroenterologist or a Hepatologist will cover both illnesses in one consultation so it is good to keep in mind the following:
Gastroenterologists specialise in the management of diseases of the gastrointestinal tract and a Hepatologist specialises in the management of diseases that affect the liver, gallbladder, biliary tree and pancreas.
I will always be so grateful to my organ donor for helping to save my life but, after a very thought provoking meeting helping with research regarding IBD in patients with PSC, it highlighted that a healthy bowel is a good bowel and the focus for the patient is to make sure we are managing all of our illnesses equally.
Thanks for reading.
Peace love and light x