person standing in the kitchen holding a glass of water
Getty Images

If you have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)ulcerative colitis (UC) or Crohn’s disease in particular — you may have heard of a link to the herpes virus.

It is important to note that treatment for IBD often involves immunosuppressants. Suppressing the immune system can increase your risk of infections.

One of these infections is the herpes simplex virus (HSV), and a complication of that virus for people with IBD is herpes simplex virus colitis.

The large intestine can beInflammation of the large intestine can be caused by the herpes virus

“Unless a person has IBD, the disease can’t develop unless a person has the HSV.”

There are two main types of the virus.

  • It is transmitted by close nonsexual and sexual contact.
  • The main cause of genital herpes is the transmission of the HSV-2 via sexual contact.

The HSV virus can remain in the body for life. It can be inactive for a long time but can come back to life.

Some people can become immunocompromised because of the treatment they receive for IBD.

This status could potentially contribute to the reactivation of the virus, which could result in more severe symptoms and even death.

HSV is a common infection across the globe. An estimated 67% of people have contracted HSV-1, and around 13% of people have contracted HSV-2.

People with IBD are more prone to colitis caused by the virus.

It was first mentioned in 1982. But since then, only a few cases have been reported and written about in scientific literature.

People with IBD who are immunocompromised are thought to be at a higher risk of developing herpes simplex virus colitis.

The immune system is suppressed by the treatment for IBD, such as corticosteroids, to help prevent and reduce the inflammation caused by the disease.

But the same dampened immune system response can put the body more at risk of certain infections, severe progressions, and complications associated with those infections.

It also increases the risk of reactivating a dormant herpes infection that already exists inside a person’s body.

Finally, persistent inflammation in the body may also boost the risk of HSV infection and thereby the risk of colitis caused by the virus later on.

“Many people with the disease don’t have any symptoms.”

Symptoms include oral or genital sores, which can be more severe in an immunocompromised person.

Symptoms of the flu are1-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-6556 This includes:

  • There is a high degree of There is a high degree of fever..
  • sore throat.
  • There is a throbbing head.
  • fatigue
  • Joint and muscle pain.

Colitis caused by this virus has symptoms that are more typical of general colitis. This includes:

  • There are stomach pains, cramps, and bloating.
  • There is a high degree of There is a high degree of fever..
  • There may be blood present in the diarrhea.
  • nausea
  • There is no appetite.
  • weight loss

Although a person can be tested for a previous case of the disease, they are not usually used to detect an active case.

Instead, a doctor or other healthcare professional will usually take a sample of blood or stool and test for the presence of the virus using a polymerase chain reaction test.

A clinician may also perform a physical examination or request imaging tests to check for specific signs of colitis.

Antiviral medication is usually prescribed for a few weeks.

The medication stops the virus from replicating inside the body.

If a case is severe, the immune suppression treatment for IBD is stopped until the symptoms of the herpes simplex virus improve.

The condition is rare, but can be fatal.

In people who are receiving treatment for IBD, the virus can cause serious conditions such as hepatitis, encephalitis, or pneumonitis, as well as colitis.

There’s also an increased risk of a colectomy, where all or part of the colon needs to be surgically removed.

If you are experiencing symptoms like vomiting, abdominal pain, and bloody stool, seek medical attention as soon as possible.

If you have an IBD diagnosis and find that your symptoms are getting worse, this is even more important.

The less chance of a serious injury is achieved by the quicker diagnosis and treatment of the herpes simplex virus.

There are a few times in the medical literature where the Herpes simplex virus colitis is shown up, including in people with IBD.

It is thought that the reactivation of the HSV is a result of IBD treatment.

It can lead to serious problems.

If you have IBD and are concerned about your symptoms, or think you might have it, you should consult with a doctor or other healthcare professional.

Lauren Sharkey is a U.K.-based journalist and author specializing in women’s issues. When she isn’t trying to discover a way to banish migraines, she can be found uncovering the answers to your lurking health questions. She has also written a book profiling young female activists across the globe and is currently building a community of such resisters. Catch her on Twitter.