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Inflammatory bowel disease: an epidemic still on the rise



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Those who suffer from it speak little of it. However, inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are on the rise. The world day of May 19 is dedicated to them to raise awareness among the general public.

The latest figures show 10 million people suffering from IBD worldwide, including 300,000 in France. Inflammatory bowel diseases include two pathologies: Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. These diseases cannot be cured and heavily alter the daily lives of those who suffer from them: fatigue, numerous diarrhoea, abdominal pain, weight loss, etc. The point with Dr. Cyrielle Gilletta de Saint-Joseph, hepato-gastroenterologist at the University Hospital Center (CHU) of Toulouse.

Why is it so important to talk about IBD?

Because these are increasingly frequent diseases, which are diagnosed early in young patients with a peak diagnosis between 20 and 30 years old, which we do not know how to cure and which are very debilitating and impactful.

What do we know about these diseases?

These are dysimmunitary diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis or other diseases. IBD affects the digestive tract. Several causes explain these diseases: a genetic susceptibility (but this is not the main reason) the environment, the alteration of the microbiota. Tobacco, ultra-processed modern food, pollution and stress come into play. Today we are talking about a global epidemic. These are diseases that are very well known by gastroenterologists, so the delay in establishing the diagnosis has been greatly reduced. Chronic symptoms should alert: abdominal pain, diarrhea, blood in the stool, weight loss.

How are they treated?

We don’t know how to cure them, but we support the patients and the objective today is to obtain the most complete remission possible under treatment. These are fairly heavy treatments that modulate the immune system. Besides that, it’s important that patients take the time to take care of themselves and their illness, which is recognized as a disability even if we don’t see it. Research is working on the microbiota and on the prevention of flare-ups. She is also very interested in food because we know that ultra-processed foods are bad for the intestinal barrier and that we can do a little by balancing our diet with fresh, minimally processed products and without too much fat. animal, alcohol and sugar.

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