Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

Helping you feel your best

Recognized by U.S. News & World Report for one of the best Gastroenterology and GI Surgery programs in the nation, University of Wisconsin Hospitals – part of UW Health – is ready to help make your life better.
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Overview

Expert care to help you heal

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) refers to chronic disorders that cause parts of your digestive system to become inflamed. Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are two of the most common types. Others include pouchitis and microscopic colitis.

IBD can leave you feeling miserable. If left untreated, it may also increase your risk for more serious health problems, including colon cancer. At UW Health, we treat IBD through Digestive Health Services.

Symptoms and diagnosis

Evaluating your symptoms

If you experience symptoms of IBD you should bring them to your provider’s attention. With a referral, we can evaluate your symptoms with several tests. We also provide second opinions.

Symptoms of IBD include:

  • Abdominal pain 

  • Anemia 

  • Dehydration 

  • Diarrhea 

  • Fever 

  • Frequent bowel movements 

  • Nausea and vomiting 

  • Weight loss 

Your symptoms may come and go. You can experience a flare-up and then be symptom-free for a time.

Diagnosis

When you come to us, we will talk with you about your symptoms. We may also order one or more tests:

Tests used to look for inflammation and other signs of bowel conditions.

A test that involves swallowing a tiny camera in a capsule that passes through your digestive tract. The camera sends a video to a monitor.

A test that allows us to view your large intestine with the aid of a thin, flexible tube with a lighted camera on its tip that’s passed through your anus. Watching on a monitor, we look for signs of inflammation or bleeding. We can also take a tissue sample if necessary.

Imaging studies that use a special dye. They help us view your digestive tract. A CT involves radiation, an MR does not.

A type of imaging test that takes X-rays from several different angles.

Tests to show blood or signs of inflammation.

Treatments and research

Helping you get results and relief

Treatment for IBD focuses on helping you manage your symptoms and protect your long-term health. We personalize care to your specific needs. If you have complex IBD we may treat you through our Inflammatory Bowel Disease Clinic.

Treatment

IBD treatments include:

  • Changes to your diet and eating habits 

  • Fiber supplements or laxatives 

  • Medication

  • Stress management

If these therapies don’t control your symptoms, surgery may be an option. Surgeons in the Colon and Rectal Surgery group at UW Health are leaders in the surgical treatment of IBD. They use minimally invasive techniques whenever possible. These surgeries use smaller incisions and often result in less pain than open procedures.

Research

Our team engages in research and clinical trials. We can often offer you promising new medicines as part of your treatment. In many cases, the drugs we’ve tested have greatly improved patients’ lives. More are being tested today. 

Learn more about our clinical trials

Meet our team

Controlling your symptoms, helping you enjoy better health

Our team includes experienced gastroenterologists, nurses and registered dietitians. Imaging specialists, health psychologists and colon and rectal surgeons may be part of your care team as well.

Patient stories

At UW Health, you get the latest treatments

Dana's story

Being treated at a research hospital like UW Health offers many benefits. Dana, who has Crohn’s disease, discovered this firsthand. When a new medication became available, it changed her life.

Watch Dana's story

Patient and support services

Learn more

More resources to help you learn about IBD.

Locations

Where to find us

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  • Digestive Health Center - Interdisciplinary Inflammatory Bowel Disease Clinic
    • 750 University Row / Madison, WI
    • (608) 890-5000
    • Closed now
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