Saturday , September 18 2021

Prolonged stomach virus or inflamed intestines?

Inflammatory bowel diseases are autoimmune diseases that affect not only the digestive organs but also the joints, connective tissue and skin. The most common diseases are ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, both of which are chronic, often with frequent, unpredictable recurrences.

Disease risk factors and environmental impact

Only 15-20% of cases of inflammatory bowel disease are affected by genetic factors. The other known 80% of the contributing factors are related to the environment: smoking, infections, lack of hygiene.

Experts acknowledge that knowing how the disease develops could more effectively treat patients and stop the spread of the disease.

Inflammatory bowel disease is more commonly diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 25, but we recently saw that both young children and people at the end of life can get sick (the oldest patient diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease for the first time in his life is 99 years old).

Symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease

Frequent bowel movements, diarrhea, perhaps 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 intestines. These are chronic diseases that cannot be completely cured, a person will suffer from them for the rest of his life.

What are the risks if the disease is not treated?

Every disease has certain complications, including life-threatening ones. If the patient does not receive appropriate medical treatment in time, the disease can progress quickly, become aggressive and die.

Aldis Puķītis: “These diseases can be like a ‘fire’ that is difficult to put out.” If a person is admitted to the hospital, he is treated, supervised and, if necessary, operated on. It is also a difficult and complex job for a doctor, he needs experience and resources to fight the worsening of the disease, because complications can be serious, even life-threatening.

Gastroenterologist Aldis Puķītis (Photo: Publicity photo)

Diagnostic methods for inflammatory bowel disease

The first diagnostic method is blood and stool tests. This is followed by an endoscopic examination during which biopsy material is taken from the site of inflammation and the activity and severity of the disease are assessed. Radiological methods are also used – ultrasonography and, if necessary, magnetic resonance imaging of the intestine, computed tomography of the abdominal cavity.

Changing medications and lifestyles

“Unfortunately, these diseases cannot be treated without medication, because the body cannot cope with them without additional help. You have to stop smoking and reconsider your current lifestyle, ”says Puķītis.

Patients receive basic therapy that is used for a long time. These are drugs that affect inflammation, alter the immune response caused by the disease, correct the inflammatory flow of cytokines in the body. Today, biological therapies and small molecules are also used.

Equality of the patient, cooperation in the treatment process are very important, Puukis emphasizes: “One part of the equality is based on the fact that the patient reacts to the symptoms that are starting 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 the drug in the blood does not fall. The moment a person stops taking the drug, that level in the cells drops and the inflammation “ignites” again. It will take a lot of time, patience and serious treatment to get back to forgiveness again. “

Can inflammatory bowel disease cause other diseases?

Patients with inflammatory bowel disease also have a risk of cancer because at some point the inflammation can become dangerous. Puķītis: “If there is a long-term active inflammation in the intestine that is not treated, pathological changes can occur and instead of inflammation, the cells transform 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 see a doctor?

Inflammatory bowel disease begins unexpectedly and is unpredictable. The person may not feel the onset of the disease, it is possible that the inflammation in the intestines is already ingrained, but the person does not feel it because there are no obvious symptoms. The first signs that may indicate illness are liquid stool for more than two weeks for no good reason, no viral infection and no antibiotics, no food poisoning. Blood can be seen in the feces and is not a pre-existing hemorrhoidal disease.

Another symptom is abdominal pain, which cannot be explained by excessive physical activity or the presence of a virus. Puķītis: “The sooner the disease is caught, 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 effectively “eradicated” by achieving timely remission. “

Inflammatory bowel disease is a sensitive topic and often a person does not want to talk about it and goes to the doctor only when the complaints become annoying.

Puķītis: “Autoimmune inflammation can be irreversible when combined with fibrosis, scar tissue appears in the intestines and narrows, which is already difficult to treat with medication. The operation is then performed and the damaged intestinal segments are excised. Especially for Crohn’s disease. “

At the moment, patients have access to the mobile application “For you, with you”. Supports every patient with inflammatory bowel disease and caregivers to improve quality of life.

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