The Clinical Need for Better Inflammatory Bowel Diseases Treatments

Imagine having abdominal cramps, inflammation, and pain along with a fever and weight loss. Individuals diagnosed with Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD) suffer from these medical issues every day.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that IBD is caused by chronic immune response and inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. What occurs is the immune system doesn’t recognize food and other materials in the intestine as harmless and begins attacking the walls of the intestines. The white blood cells also cause inflammation within the bowel region.  IBD causes more than 700,000 physician visits annually in the United States, resulting in 100,000 hospitalizations and disability in 119,000 patients.

Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are the two most common disorders under the IBD category. Crohn’s disease usually affects the small bowel and part of the large bowel but can technically occur in any part of the intestinal tract.

Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease

Some common signs of Crohn’s are cramping, abdominal pain, fever, ongoing diarrhea, and rectal bleeding. Also, loss of appetite, fatigue, joint pain, vomiting, and weight loss may occur. Additionally, ulcers may form in the intestinal tract and may even become infected over time.

Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis

Ulcerative colitis is a disorder limited to the large bowel, as it affects the top layer of the colon. The typical signs of ulcerative colitis include abdominal pain, cramps, diarrhea and bloody stool, weight loss, a decline in appetite, fatigue, joint pain, liver problems, and eye inflammation. Nausea, abdominal bloating, and fever may also occur among patients with this disorder. When compared to Crohn’s disease, the symptoms of ulcerative colitis are more likely to come and go with many patients experiencing little distress.

Medication for Treating IBD

There are five subtypes of drugs that are used to treat the symptoms of Crohn’s disease. These are: aminosalicylates, immune modifiers, steroids, antibiotics, and biologic therapy. Some common antibiotics include ampicillin, ciprofloxacin, and metronidazole.

The Mayo Clinic explains that drug treatment may bring symptom relief as well as long-term remission. Anti-inflammatory drugs such as sulfasalazine, mesalamine, balsalazide, olsalazine, and corticosteroids are able to reduce some of the severe symptoms of IBD including inflammation of the intestines. However, some of these medications come with side effects like nausea, heartburn, and headaches.

Corticosteroids specifically include acute reactions like osteoporosis, high blood pressure, bone fractures, mood swings, cataracts, and weight gain. Doctors only assign corticosteroids for a short period of time if a patient has moderate or severe inflammatory bowel disease and no other treatments have helped.

Other medications used as IBD treatments include immune system suppressors and antibiotics. If diet or lifestyle changes and prescribed drugs do not alleviate the symptoms of IBD, a medical team may consider recommending surgery to the patient. This would include the removal of the colon and rectum. A small colostomy bag would then be worn over the abdomen to collect stool.

This past summer, The Telegraph reports, a young woman from the United Kingdom spread greater awareness of Crohn’s disease when she posted a photo to social media of herself tanning in a bathing suit with two colostomy bags connected to her abdomen.

Clearly, IBD affects more patients than commonly thought. The CDC reported this disorder is responsible for 100,000 hospitalizations, 700,000 doctor visits, and disability among 119,000 patients in the U.S. every year. More emphasis will need to be put on scientific pre-clinical research for better IBD treatments in the near future.

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Categories: Inflammatory diseases

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