Inflammatory bowel disease: how to treat a pathology that bothers and alters the quality of life

Inflammatory bowel disease: how to treat a pathology that bothers and alters the quality of life

Patients with inflammatory bowel disease must constantly plan their lives and activities around ‘safe’ access to the bathroom (Getty)

the inflammatory bowel disease are a group of autoimmune diseases, chronic and inflammatory in nature that affect different segments of the intestinal tractI. They appear in the form of epidemics and with variable severity.

These conditions may cause frequency or urgency of stools, persistent diarrhea for more than four weeks, abdominal pain, mucus and bleeding in stools, perianal lesions, weight loss, fever or vomiting. All these characteristics influence the quality of life of patients, who they generally experience the disease with discomfort and shame.

All May 19 commemorates the World Inflammatory Bowel Disease Day (IBD) to raise awareness and disseminate information on these pathologies. The symptom they depend on the segment of the intestinal tract concerned. There are three categories: Crohn’s disease (can affect any section of the digestive system from the mouth to the anus), the ulcerative colitis(concerns only the large intestine – colon), and the unclassifiable colitis or also called indeterminate.

“Occasionally, Associated symptoms such as joint pain or skin conditions may appear. Faced with such diverse symptoms, which manifest themselves over more or less prolonged periods and with varying intensity, it is important to consult the professional.. Early diagnosis and prompt treatment are key to controlling the disease and minimizing and/or avoiding complications, hospitalizations and even surgeries,” explained the doctor. Federico Yáñez (MP 10519), gastroenterologist at Clínica de Cuyo in Mendoza and former president of the Argentine Federation of Gastroenterology (FAGE).

Early and rapid diagnosis helps detect inflammatory bowel disease at a time when many of the sequelae that can occur are preventable and reversible (Getty)
Early and rapid diagnosis helps detect inflammatory bowel disease at a time when many of the sequelae that can occur are preventable and reversible (Getty)

inflammatory bowel disease affect both men and women and although its peak of onset is observed in young adults (second and third decades of life), between 20 and 30% of patients are diagnosed in childhood, observing more and more patients diagnosed since childhood. Due to their low prevalence, they are part of the so-called “rare” diseases.

The situation that each patient goes through is very particular, not everyone faces these diseases in the same way. A common aspect is everyday situations which go unnoticed by many but which patients frequently encounter and which limit the normal development of their daily lives.

These diseases condition the daily lives of patients and can be very uncomfortable: “Patients must constantly plan their lives and activities around ‘safe’ access to the bathroom. Every day they take on the challenge of sharing with the environment (school, work, friends) what inflammatory bowel disease causes, without turning red,” he said. Luciana Escati Peñaloza, president of the Mas Vida Foundation for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

The feeling and the immediate need to go to the bathroom is often even greater than the organic pain caused by the disease. Also for patients it becomes a challenge to find the words to explain why absenteeism at school or at workwhy they decide not to participate in social gatheringswhy suddenly interrupt a conversation and explain that they have a disease that few know about, that it cannot be cured, that it is not a question of the food that is eaten, that it is not psychosomatic”, a developed Escati Peñaloza.

These conditions can cause frequent or urgent bowel movements, persistent diarrhea for more than four weeks, abdominal pain, mucus and/or bleeding in the stool, perianal lesions, weight loss, fever, or vomiting ( Getty)
These conditions can cause frequent or urgent bowel movements, persistent diarrhea for more than four weeks, abdominal pain, mucus and/or bleeding in the stool, perianal lesions, weight loss, fever, or vomiting ( Getty)

The impact on the quality of life of patients is very varied, depending on the severity of the pathology. “Many times it’s young people, who do not expect to be sick in any way, let alone a chronic illness requiring medication. The symptoms of the active disease impact all areas of life: social, professional, recreational and intimate,” explained the doctor. Juan Andrés De Paula (MN 47077), president of the Argentine Group for the Study of Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis (GADECCU) and head of the inflammatory bowel disease team at the Italiano Hospital in Buenos Aires.

Before the diagnosis there is always a ‘duel‘ what to do until accepting what is happening. Acceptance allows you to make better decisions to live better. There, our role as the health team is crucial help the patient to face his fears, his fears, his prejudices to adopt the most appropriate behaviorsadded the specialist.

Many patients take years to get treatment because the expected symptoms are similar to other more common digestive conditions, so the diagnosis is often misdiagnosed or delayed, which has a direct impact on health.

“Early and rapid diagnosis of inflammatory bowel disease allows us to detect disease at a time when many of the consequences that may occur are preventable and reversible. Late diagnosis often involves resorting to surgeryaffecting in particular the quality of life of patients,” he said. Dr Josefina Etchevers (MN 100294), gastroenterologist at the Hospital Italiano de Buenos Aires and member of the board of directors of the Argentine Society of Gastroenterology (SAGE).

Inflammatory bowel disease affects both men and women equally
Inflammatory bowel disease affects both men and women equally

“The treatments for these diseases have evolved in revolutionary ways, radically optimizing the quality of life of patients. There has been a paradigm shift. Thanks to new therapies that are much more effective and with fewer side effectsadded to a better knowledge of the evolution of the disease, we have increasingly favorable results,” added Etchevers.

The joint work of healthcare professionals with the patient and his specific condition is essential: “Treatment strategies for patients with IBD must go beyond controlling the symptoms of the disease and also aim to improve endoscopy results by controlling intestinal damage. This improvement in symptoms must be prolonged and sustained over time in order to avoid sequelaeconcluded the Etchevers.

This year the “Mas Vida Foundation for Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis» will carry out for the second consecutive year, the Argentinian Conversation for IBD Patients: INFLAMMATORY 2022which will take place today at 9:30 p.m., virtually until Facebook and Instagram Live of the Fundación Más Vida: @fundacionmasvida. The discussion has the support of the Argentine Society of Gastroenterology (SAGE), the Argentine Group for the Study of Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis (GADECCU), and the Argentine Federation of Gastroenterology (FAGE).

The objective of INFLAMMATORY 2022 is to provide information to the patient and his environment to better understand the disease. Delve into the aspects of the disease that are often impossible to address in consultation with the attending physician. It will be a space for exchange with expert doctors where patients will be able to have a broader dimension of the disease”, explained Escati Peñaloza.

Besides, Fundación Más Vida has a useful “symptom checker” for those who have intestinal or extra-intestinal symptoms that persist over time. The objective is to increase the level of suspicion of IBD and bring people closer to consultation with health specialists. The Symptom Checker is available online and can be viewed here. The tool offered to you does not in any way replace the consultation with the doctor.. It is important that specialized medical care is always sought in the face of any health problem.

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