Inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD, is a chronic (long-term), relapsing and remitting, inflammatory disorder of the digestive system (which may also be referred to as the gut or gastrointestinal tract).

It is caused by a genetic susceptibility, types of intestinal bacteria present in the gut and dysfunction of the gut immune system in combination with a number of environmental triggers. IBD has two recognisable, and occasionally overlapping forms, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. IBD can affect people at any age but tends to occur for the first time in young adults. IBD is increasing worldwide and this includes South Africa.