Vocabulary of Inflammatory & Autoimmune Disorders of the Intestinal Tract

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  • 0:01 Intestinal Inflammation
  • 0:35 Enteritis
  • 1:11 IBD
  • 2:46 IBS
  • 3:49 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson will define several terms related to inflammatory and autoimmune disorders of the gastrointestinal tract and clarify a common misconception between inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome.

Intestinal Inflammation

Imagine going on a small hike in the woods only to come out with a rash all over your exposed skin. That rash may have been produced by contact with some sort of poisonous plant, like poison ivy or poison oak. It is a result of your immune system's inflammatory response against the poison.

This kind of redness and pain resulting from your body's immune and inflammatory response to a variety of causes can also occur in your intestinal tract, and we're about to learn the definitions of several conditions that encompass this.


The very general term for inflammation of the intestines is enteritis. This word comes from the prefix of 'enter/o-,' which means intestines, and '-itis,' which means inflammation. 'Enter' rhymes with 'venter,' the word for the abdomen or belly where these intestines sit, and hopefully, that'll help you remember the definition of the prefix of 'enter/o.'

Just like the contact of your skin against a poison causes inflammation of the skin, known as dermatitis, contact with a poisonous food or a virus or bacteria can produce an inflammatory response by the body that results in enteritis.


Inflammation of the intestines is a big part of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a general name for diseases that involve chronic inflammation of all or part of the gastrointestinal tract. The two major kinds of inflammatory bowel disease are ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease.

Ulcerative colitis is a term that is broken down as follows. 'Ulcerative' means this disorder brings about ulcers in the intestines. Ulcers are a deep defect in the intestinal tissue. They are like a really deep scratch or sore on your skin so bleeding is involved! 'Colitis' is a word that refers to the inflammation (-itis) of the colon.

Crohn's disease is named after Dr. Burrill Crohn, a physician who, along with his colleagues, described this illness. It is an autoimmune disorder. 'Autoimmune' means the body directs the damaging immune and inflammatory response against the self, or 'auto-.'

What I need you to take away from inflammatory bowel diseases in general is that they are:

  • Inflammatory. Duh!
  • Idiopathic
  • Chronic
  • Incurable, but manageable

'Idiopathic' means we don't really know what causes or triggers them. Remember that we are 'idio'ts for not knowing what causes an 'idio'pathic disease. 'Chronic' means they are long lasting. Remember that 'chronic' means 'of a long duration' by rhyming 'chronic' with 'symphonic.' Symphonies tend to last so long people begin falling asleep when listening to them.


Before you fall asleep here, I have to end this lesson on an important and often confusing note for clarity's sake. There is something known as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and it's often mistaken for IBD. They're not the same thing at all.

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