Inflammatory bowel disease [IBD], in an umbrella term under which Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis fall. The condition is a long-term inflammatory condition that leads to holes and ulcers in the small and large intestines, which can severely impact the quality of life of sufferers. IBD affects at least one in 250 people of the UK population, but the prevalence is rising sharply. Some signs when going to the toilet should not be ignored, and warrant “immediate” medical attention.
Both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are characterised by an array of intrusive symptoms such as diarrhoea, pain, weight loss and extreme fatigue.
However, rectal bleeding is another known symptom of IBD, and it doesn’t occur exclusively when passing stool.
Darker or black stool may indicate that bleeding has occurred higher up in the digestive system.
The cause of the inflammatory disease is a mystery, but hypotheses put forward by medical circles suggest that it is an autoimmune condition, meaning it is caused primarily by the body attacking its own tissue.
READ MORE: Crohn’s disease symptoms: The early warning sign when having a poo to watch out for
Reports in VeryWell Health state that small amounts of bleeding when going to the toilet may not be a cause for concern.
However, the site warns: “If there is new bleeding or it’s happening during what should be a time of remission, contact a doctor to treat the flare-up.
“Flaring or not, if seeing a significant amount of blood in the still should prompt a call to a gastroenterologist immediately.
“If bleeding does not stop, there is fatness or dizziness, or the doctor is unavailable, call  or the local emergency department immediately.”
According to the NHS, these symptoms may come and go, with times where symptoms are severe, followed by long symptomatic periods.
The health body states: “Around 60 to 75 percent of people with Crohn’s disease will need surgery to repair damage to their digestive system and treat complications of Crohn’s disease.
“It’s estimated that one in five people with ulcerative colitis has severe symptoms that do not improve with symptoms. In these cases, surgery may be necessary to remove an inflamed section of the large bowel.”
Both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis have been associated with a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
Some studies have highlighted the detrimental effects of diets high in animal protein for inflammation of the intestines.
Fortunately, some anti-inflammatory drugs can be effective at relieving uncomfortable symptoms and can help sufferers lead a normal life.
A line of evidence has also shown that a low-calorie diet may also help ease symptoms of IBD.
One study, in particular, found that such a diet increased stem cells in the gut which reverse inflammation-associated shrinking in the colon, a hallmark of IBD.
Researchers believe low-calorie diets may help repopulate the gut with Lactobacillus, a bacteria responsible for improving symptoms.
Ulcerative colitis, the most common form of IBD, affects about 100,000 people in the UK, a great number of whom develop their first symptoms in their late teens or early twenties.
A 2019 study investigating the prevalence of the condition, warned that the rates of IBD could increase to on in less than a hundred within a decade.
Charlie Lees, the consultant gastroenterologist in the Edinburgh inflammatory bowel disease unit, said: “There is no doubt that IBD is now becoming a global pandemic.
“This study provides much-needed data and can act as a launchpad for pivotal new studies to help patients.”