Does Inflammatory Bowel Disease Affect Life Expectancy?

Does Inflammatory Bowel Disease Affect Life Expectancy? 

There is a lot of information out there on the internet about inflammatory bowel disease. Some of it is good, and some of it is not so good. One question that a lot of people have is whether IBD affects life expectancy. In this blog post, we will look at some of the latest research on this topic and try to answer that question for you! But first, we are going to do a short overview of inflammatory bowel disease. 

What is Inflammatory Bowel Disease? 

Inflammatory bowel disease is a condition that affects the gastrointestinal tract. There are two main types of inflammatory bowel disease- Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Crohn's disease is a condition that can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract, from the mouth to the rectum. Ulcerative colitis, on the other hand, is a condition that affects the large intestine and the rectum. 

Both Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are autoimmune diseases. This means that the body's immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells and tissues. The cause of inflammatory bowel disease is not known, but it is believed that a combination of environmental factors and genetics may play a role. 

Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Life Expectancy

Crohn's Disease 

Crohn's Disease is a chronic condition that can cause inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract. Crohn's disease affects around 700,000 men and women in the United States. If you suffer from any of the symptoms mentioned below then it is important to speak with your doctor immediately. 

Crohn's Disease

What are the Symptoms of IBD? 

The symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease can vary from person to person. Some common symptoms include: 

  • Abdominal pain 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Rectal bleeding 
  • Fever 
  • Weight loss 
  • Fatigue 
  • Nausea 

These are just a few of the possible symptoms. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to see your doctor right away. 

Symptoms of IBD

Possible Complications of IBD 

Patients who suffer from Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis can experience complications if they are not proactive. Here are some of the possible complications that can occur if inflammatory bowel diseases are left unchecked: 

  • Colorectal Cancer: Colorectal cancer, another name for colon cancer, has a higher chance of developing in patients who suffer from Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis. 
  • Malnutrition: IBD can cause patients to lose weight and become malnourished if left addressed. 
  • Abscesses: Patients who suffer from IBD can have painfully infected pockets form within the wall of their intestines. 
  • Ulcers: Crohn's disease can cause ulcers in the patient's stomach due to constant inflammation, which can become infected. 
  • Intestinal blockage: Crohn's disease can cause the lining of your intestines to thicken which can lead to intestinal blockage and further complications. 
  • Fistulas: Inflammation in your digestive tract can cause openings to form in your bowels which leads to damage to your intestines by gastric fluid. 

Does IBD Effect Life Expectancy? 

This is a very complex question, and we will refer to scientific studies to help us answer it for you. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to calculate life expectancy, but there have been studies on Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis whose goal was to find any noticeable patterns in life expectancy. 

According to the National Library of Medicine, life expectancy for people with IBD increased from 1996 to 2011, but the study concludes that people who suffer from IBD do have a lower life expectancy than people without IBD. 

Improved management of IBD symptoms and pain associated with these symptoms will continue to improve health-adjusted life expectancy for people with IBD. 

Healthline suggests that IBD should not drastically affect life expectancy if you are taking care of your body, visiting the doctor regularly, and following proper dietary guidelines such as the Low FODMAP diet. 

The Crohn's and Colitis foundation says that life expectancy can be shortened due to the increased risk of colon cancer. They suggest that patients that suffer from Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis should have regular colon screenings as they are at higher risk of developing colon cancer than the general population.  

WebMD says that people who suffer from Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis should have a similar life expectancy to someone without IBD if they are taking preventative measures and ensuring that no complications arise.  

Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Life Expectancy

What is Health-Adjusted Life Expectancy? 

Health-adjusted life expectancy is a measure of the number of years a person is expected to live, adjusted for the quality of those years. In other words, it takes into account both the length and quality of life. 

Due to the constant pain, uncomfortable symptoms, and complications that come from Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, the health-adjusted life expectancy for the people who suffer from IBD is lower than the people who do not suffer from IBD.  

This just means that people who suffer from inflammatory bowel disease will not have the same quality of life as people who do not have IBD due to the side effects that come with living with IBD. 

What does this all mean? 

It is impossible to officially calculate life expectancy, but many sources say that there is not a drastic difference in life expectancy between people with IBD and people without IBD.  

There is going to be a difference in health-adjusted life expectancy due to the side effects that people experience living with IBD.  

Overall, people with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis can live just as long as people without IBD, but this all comes down to how proactive they are with their health and nutrition.  

How do I ensure a long life expectancy living with IBD? 

If you suffer from Crohn's disease or colitis, then you need to be proactive with your health and nutrition to ensure your life expectancy is not affected. Here are the top 4 things that recommend ensuring you have a long-life expectancy.  

  • Regular Doctor Visits 
  • Proper Nutrition 
  • Regular Cancer Screenings and Colonoscopies 
  • Proper Supplement and Medication Intake 

Regular visits with the doctor is important for IBD care.

Regular Doctor Visits 

Regular doctor visits are great advice for everyone, but very important for people who suffer from Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. The reason this is important is because the doctor can monitor your IBD symptoms and ensure no complications arise. 

Proper Nutrition 

Proper nutritional intake is one of the most important parts of living with IBD. Unfortunately, there are no exact diets made to improve IBD symptoms, but there are some diets that have shown some promise. 

The Low FODMAP diet is one diet that has shown some promise due to its use of identifying trigger foods.  

Another diet that has had some proven benefits for IBD is the Mediterranean diet due to its high amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids. 

One major tip that we suggest is to intake as much protein, fruits, and vegetables as possible in between flare-ups. This will allow your body to get the nutrients it needs and will help you avoid malnutrition. 

Proper nutrition is important for IBD care.

Regular Cancer Screenings and Colonoscopies 

This is very important to ensure a long life expectancy due to the potential higher risk of cancer and other complications that come along with living with IBD. Consistent and regular cancer screenings and colonoscopies will ensure that no cancer or complications will sneak up and surprise you.  

Proper Supplement and Medication Intake 

There are plenty of supplements and medications that can improve your health-adjusted life expectancy and quality of life. Here are some of the important medications and supplements that we suggest you speak to your doctor about if you suffer from IBD: 

  • Anti-inflammatory drugs: This is typically the first treatment suggested by doctors for inflammatory bowel disease. 
  • Immune system suppressors: These drugs are supposed to suppress the immune system from releasing inflammation-inducing chemicals. 
  • Biologics: This is a new type of medication used to treat IBD that is supposed to neutralize inflammation-causing proteins. 
  • Antibiotics: Antibiotics can sometimes be used to treat IBD, most specifically, Crohn disease. 
  • Anti-diarrhea medication: This medication is usually taken to reduce the symptom of diarrhea which happens during flare-ups. 
  • Pain relievers: This medication can be taken to reduce pain symptoms that people experience during flare-ups. 
  • Vitamins: IBD can cause malnutrition, which can lead to not enough vitamins and nutrients being absorbed by your body. 

Vitamins and supplements is another important part of IBD care.


As you can see from this article, the evaluated life expectancy for people who suffer from IBD can be impossible to identify. The good news is that studies show no drastic differences in life expectancy between people with IBD and people with IBD. Whilst life expectancy is the same, it can all depend on whether someone with IBD experiences any major complications from the disease. 

The health-adjusted life expectancy is the main difference between people who suffer from IBD and people who do not. Due to the uncomfortable symptoms and possible complications, the health-adjusted life expectancy is lower for people who live with IBD. This does not mean you will not live as long, but it does mean your quality of life will not be as high. 

Living with IBD is not all doom and gloom though! You just have to make sure you stay proactive by visiting your doctor regularly, getting cancer screenings and colonoscopies regularly, maintaining proper nutrition, and getting enough supplements and vitamins in your body. 

Living with IBD is hard, but it isn't all doom and gloom.

Do you need help with IBD nutrition? 

Nutrition can be very hard to maintain whether you have Crohn's disease or colitis or no health conditions at all. We live in a very busy world with constant distractions and things to do, which can make shopping and cooking difficult for anyone.  

Luckily, ModifyHealth can deliver fully prepared, medically tailored meals right to your front door. These meals are based on science-backed diets and are proven to help with chronic health conditions such as IBS, IBD, Heart disease, Hypertension, Obesity, and Diabetes. If you are struggling with your nutrition, then you should lean on ModifyHealth for help. Click the link to check out their medically tailored meal plans: Medically Tailored Meals