Although the real reason for Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is unknown even today, certain factors that lead to this disease is identifiable. The environment, immunological changes and genetic reasons can contribute to this condition. This disease is commonly found among people aged between 15 and 40, irrespective of gender. If a member in the family gets IBD, other members are in at a higher risk of getting IBD as well.
Originally, IBD was a condition more commonly found in western countries. Nonetheless, lifestyle changes have of late ‘exported’ this disease to other countries too. Environment and surroundings are also major deciding factors. What is more interesting is that those who reside in developed and cleaner surroundings are more prone to IBD than those who live in slums and untidy surroundings.
Two kinds of IBD
There are two kinds of IBD: Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. While ulcerative colitis affects the large intestine only, Crohn’s disease can affect any organ from mouth to rectum. The alarming news is that in India, Kerala has the most number of IBD patients!
This type IBD consists of sores in the inner layers of the large intestine. These sores remain unhealed for a long time. Diarrhea and faeces mixed with blood are main symptoms. Severe stomach ache, weight loss and distaste for food are other symptoms.
Crohn’s disease not only leads to infection in the large intestine, but also in other parts of the digestive system. It is more commonly found at the bottom of small intestine and rectum. The wound are deeper in this disease, which is also commonly found among children.
» Diarrhea, fever, severe pain, faeces with blood and lack of appetite are symptoms common to both variants of IBD. Once you identify the symptoms, do not delay the treatment. Crohn’s disease causes contraction of the intestine and disrupts digestive functions. Blockage of the intestine and fistula are possible outcomes.
» If instant treatment is not provided, the patient is likely to face with extremely serious health concerns. Apart from the intestine, this disease can also affect liver, joints, eyes and skin. Both these variants can lead to intestinal cancer. Regular smokers are more prone to Crohn’s disease.
» Blood test
» CT/MR Enterography
» Capsule Enteroscopy
Although, total eradication of IBD is still an unattained dream, effective treatments are available. They can curb the spreading of intestinal sores, help healing and reduce complexities. In case, medicines are not working in a patient, he would need to undergo surgery in advanced stages. He may have to take medicines for a long time, or even lifetime. Regular treatment and frequent tests are imperative. Avoid food rich in fiber at severe stages of the disease.
Things to remember
You can bring IBD under control by making a change in lifestyle and eating habits:
» Avoid milk and milk products
» Fistula, found among children and youth, might be the preliminary sign of Crohn’s disease.
» Symptoms like persisting diarrhea and faeces with blood (especially among the youth), asks for IBD tests and diagnosis.
» Stunted growth among teenagers (especially accompanied by symptoms of stomach diseases) must be checked and examined for IBD.
(The author works at the PVS Memorial Hospital, Kochi)