What is Regional Ileitis?
This is a long-standing, inflammatory disease of the bowel, but it occurs more commonly in the final part of the small bowel (ileum) and the caecum, the dilated portion of bowel that joins onto the colon. Symptoms. These are nonspecific, and are similar to those occurring with general bowel inflammations. They may vary according to the area involved. Frequently there is a history of abdominal pain, diarrhoea, general ill health, loss of appetite, anaemia, weight loss, and often elevated temperatures. About a quarter of a doctor’s patients describe symptoms that are mistaken for acute appendicitis.
About 80 per cent complain of diarrhoea. Often this is thin and watery, and may contain particles of undigested food. Sometimes there is a high fat content in the stools, and they may be streaked with blood.
Various nutritional deficiencies commonly result from this. The patient may be fearful of eating, due to the pain that results. Also, due to the inflammation, malabsorption of the food may take place, so the patient may slide downhill in general health for this reason. Anaemias commonly result and, due to the frequent fluid loss, some patients become dehydrated.
Treatment must be under adequate medical supervision. There is no set routine that brings an infallible cure. A nutritious diet is advised, probably low in fat, but high in protein and vitamins. Unprocessed bran may check the diarrhoea by absorbing fluid and helping to normalise actions.
Diphenoxylate hydrochloride (Lomotil) or lmodium often reduce the diarrhoea. Iron and folic acid are used for the anaemia. Surgery is sometimes helpful in severe cases.