Inflammatory bowel diseases are autoimmune diseases that affect not only the digestive organs but also the joints, connective tissues and skin. The most common diseases are ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, both chronic, often with frequent and unpredictable relapses.
Disease risk factors and environmental impact
Only 15-20% of cases of inflammatory bowel disease are affected by genetic factors. The other 80% known contributing factors are related to the environment: smoking, infections, lack of hygiene.
Experts acknowledge that knowing how the disease develops could treat patients more effectively and prevent the disease from spreading.
Inflammatory bowel disease is most commonly diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 25, but we have recently seen that young children and people at the end of life can also get sick (the oldest patient with a diagnosis of inflammatory bowel disease for the first time). once in his life he is 99 years old).
Symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease
Frequent bowel movements, diarrhea, possibly with blood in the abdomen, and abdominal pain are evidence of the disease. The patient may have anemia or anemia caused by inflammation of the intestine. They are chronic diseases that cannot be completely cured, a person will suffer from them for a lifetime.
What are the risks if diseases are not treated?
All diseases have certain complications, including life-threatening ones. If the patient does not receive proper medical treatment in time, the disease can progress rapidly, become aggressive, and die.
Aldis Puķītis: “These diseases can be like a fire that is difficult to extinguish.” If a person is admitted to a hospital, they are treated, supervised and, if necessary, operated on. It is also a difficult and complex job for a doctor, who needs experience and resources to combat the exacerbations of the disease, because complications can be serious, even life-threatening.
Diagnostic methods of inflammatory bowel disease
The first diagnostic method is blood and stool tests. An endoscopic examination is then performed, during which the biopsy material is extracted from the sites of inflammation and the activity and severity of the disease are assessed. Radiological methods are also used: ultrasound and, if necessary, magnetic resonance imaging of the intestine, computed tomography of the abdominal cavity.
Medication and lifestyle change
“Unfortunately, without medication, these diseases cannot be treated, because the body cannot cope with them without additional help. You have to stop smoking and review your current lifestyle,” says Puķītis.
Patients receive a basic therapy that is used for a long time. These are drugs that affect inflammation, change the immune response caused by the disease, correct the inflammatory flow of cytokines in the body. Biological therapies and small molecules are also currently used.
Patient equality, cooperation in the treatment process is very important, emphasizes Puukis: “Part of equality is based on the fact that the patient responds to the symptoms that begin to bother him. The second part is the regular use of medications, as there are certain regimens to follow. It is important that the level of medicine in the blood does not fall. By the time a person stops taking a medication, this level in the cells decreases and the inflammation re-ignites. It will take a long time, patience and serious treatment to return to remission.
Can inflammatory bowel disease be caused by other diseases?
Patients with inflammatory bowel disease are also at risk for cancer, as at some point the inflammation can become dangerous. Answer: “If there is an active untreated intestinal inflammation for a long time, pathological changes may occur and, instead of inflammation, the cells are transformed into tumor cells. In order to reduce the risk of tumors, patients who have been ill for more than ten years are especially monitored. “
When should you definitely visit a doctor?
Inflammatory bowel disease begins unexpectedly and is unpredictable. It is possible that the person does not feel the onset of the disease, it is possible that the inflammation in the intestine is already rooted, but the person does not feel it because there are no obvious symptoms. The first signs that may indicate a disease are liquid bowel movements for more than two weeks for no good reason, no viral infection or antibiotics or food poisoning. Blood can be seen in the stool and is not a pre-existing hemorrhoidal disease.
Another symptom is abdominal pain, which is not explained by excessive physical activity or the presence of a virus. Puķītis: “The sooner this disease is detected, the more effective the treatment will be. It has been shown that in the first two years after the onset of symptoms, the disease can be “eradicated” effectively by achieving timely remission ”.
Inflammatory bowel disease is a sensitive topic and often a person does not want to talk about it and only goes to the doctor when the complaints have been bothered.
Answer: “Autoimmune inflammation can be irreversible when combined with fibrosis, scar tissue appears in the intestine that shrinks, which is already difficult to treat with medication. Then surgery is performed and the damaged intestinal segments are removed. Especially for Crohn’s disease. “
Patients currently have access to the “For you, with you” mobile app. It supports all patients with inflammatory bowel disease and their caregivers to improve their quality of life.
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