Ileum inflammation can be caused by irritation to the intestinal wall, infection, problems with the immune system, malfunction of the digestive tract, or an obstruction. The medical term for ileum inflammation is ileitis. Ileitis is one of several types of inflammatory bowel disease. It affects the very bottom section of the small intestines. Crohn's ileitis is a form of Crohn's disease that causes inflammation of the ileum. It is caused by Lawsonia intracellularis, a type of bacteria.
Individuals suffering from ileitis often experience pain during and after meals. The illness itself is progressive, and without treatment, a blockage of thickened intestinal wall can develop, leading to severe health consequences, and even death. A more common side effect of the inflammation, however, is trouble getting adequate nutrition. The ileum is responsible for absorbing many nutrients during the digestive process. Inflammation makes it difficult for the ileum to perform its job properly, which can lead to undernourishment.
Symptoms of ileum inflammation include weight loss, pain in the abdomen, and problems with the bowels. These symptoms are similar to those of other bowel disorders, and a healthcare provider will need to determine the area of inflammation while working on a treatment plan. A definitive diagnosis is made through several blood tests, including testing protein levels and looking for specific antibodies, as well as through endoscopy and a barium control study. During an endoscopy, a tube with a light and camera is passed into the intestinal tract, so the physician can see areas of inflammation. During a barium control study, the individual takes barium, which provides greater contrast in the intestinal tract, making it easier to see problems with imaging diagnostics, such as x-rays.
Treatment for ileitis includes a low fiber diet and medication, including antibiotics. In some cases, an ileostomy is required to provide relief. An ileostomy is a surgical procedure where the rectum and colon are removed, and the bottom of the ileum is passed through a stoma, a surgically created opening in the abdominal wall.
It is possible to modify the diet to reduce discomfort from ileum inflammation, although this should not take the place of medical care. Drink adequate water and eat soft, healthy foods such as yogurt and cottage cheese. Avoid foods that are high in fiber, which are difficult for the body to digest, and spicy foods, which can irritate the already sensitive digestive tract. Eat slowly and chew the food well.