18 May IBD Day: Do you suffer from an Inflammatory Bowel Disease?
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) typically references two conditions; Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis. Over 300,000 people suffer with these conditions in the UK alone, plus there are other less common types of IBD too. People of all ages are affected by IBD, however diagnosis usually takes place in young people, between age 15 and 30. As with many bowel disorders, there are many people suffering in silence, afraid or embarrassed to seek help.
IBD Day – 19 May 2017
IBD awareness day is designed to help raise awareness of the symptoms and treatments for IBD.
If you have been experiencing related symptoms, but have not been to see a doctor, then now is the perfect time to seek the help you deserve.
It is estimated that 5 million people around the world live with IBD, therefore, you are not alone.
Help is available and the first step is to be correctly diagnosed by a specialist doctor.
What is IBD?
Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease both involve inflammation of the gut and are long-term conditions that currently have no cure, and the cause of each is not fully understood. Genetics are thought to play a part and a poor immune system could contribute.
It affects women and men equally and diagnosis usually occurs in young people, aged 15 to 30.
Image Source: https://worldibdday.org/
Research suggests that people who smoke are twice as likely to get Crohn’s disease than non-smokers.
Ulcerative colitis symptoms
Ulcerative colitis affects the large intestine (colon) and depending on the exact location and the severity of symptoms, depends on how the disease is classified. Here
- Ulcerative proctitis tends to be the mildest form of the condition. It relates to the part of the colon closest to the anus and subsequently rectal bleeding is a common, and sometimes the sole symptom.
- Proctosigmviditis relates to inflammation of the lower end of the colon and rectum. Symptoms may vary but can include abdominal pain or bloody diarrhoea. Constipation can also be a symptom, despite an urge to empty the bowel, a symptom known as “tenesmus”.
- Left-sided colitis is where the inflammation descends through the colon from the rectum. Symptoms may also involve abdominal cramps and bloody diarrhoea as well as pain of the left side of the body. Weight loss may also be apparent.
- Pancolitis can affect the entire colon and symptoms can be severe. Bouts of bloody diarrhoea, abdominal pain, fatigue, and significant weight loss are common.
- Acute severe ulcerative colitis is rare but the most severe type, affecting the whole length of the colon. Severe pain, frequent diarrhoea, rectal bleeding, fever and lack of appetite are typical symptoms.
Read more about ulcerative colitis
Crohn’s disease symptoms
Unlike ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease can affect any part of the digestive system.
The most common areas to be affected are:
- Ileum – the last part of the small intestine
- Colon – the large intestine
Common symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain
- Vomiting and diarrhoea
- Fatigue, excessive tiredness
- The skin around the anus can be affected too
Inflammation, or scarring, may cause the bowel wall to narrow, called fibrostenosis. Severe narrowing may even lead to a blockage which obstructs passage.
Alternatively, the inflammation may tunnel through the wall of the bowel, called fistula.
Read more about Crohn’s disease
Currently, there is no cure for either Crohn’s disease of ulcerative colitis. The only treatment therefore is to relieve the symptoms.
In some mild cases, no treatment may be necessary.
Also, changes to diet and lifestyle can help initially. Medicines and surgery though are needed for more severe cases.
Medicines used to treat both conditions include:
- aminosalicylates or mesalazines
- immunosuppressants like steroids or azathioprine. These reduce immune system activity.
- biologics. These target a specific part of the immune system
Those with severe ulcerative colitis symptoms report that medication doesn’t help them, in 1 in 5 cases. Here, surgery is often the only option, where the inflamed section of the colon is removed.
Between 60 and 75 percent of Crohn’s disease sufferers need surgery to repair their damaged digestive system.
IBD diagnosis – when to see a doctor
Diagnosis is essential for IBDs to take the first step to feeling better.
IBD isn’t fatal, it is a serious and sometimes complicated disease that can also increase the risk of bowel cancer.
Even if your symptoms are embarrassing, remember you are not alone. Specialist help is available. The sooner symptoms are diagnosed, the sooner treatment options can be considered.
FOR HELP AND GUIDANCE ON DIGESTIVE DISORDERS AND TREATMENT FROM AN EXPERIENCED GASTROENTEROLOGIST, CONTACT DR ANTON BUNGAY.