MAY 19 is celebrated across the globe as World Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). The disease is chronic inflammatory condition of the intestine and is of two main types: Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s disease. IBD is increasing in India and this increase is largely driven by changes in the diet and westernization of lifestyle.
A recent editorial in Lancet Gastroenterology and Hepatology described South Asia (including India) as a new frontier of IBD. Some studies have shown that IBD is as common in North India as in the western world. Genetics, immune response, and changes in the dietary pattern also play a role in the causation of this disease. IBD can affect any age or gender. Usually, these patients have abdominal pain, diarrhoea, and bleeding in the stools. The diagnosis is often delayed because of the lack of awareness about the disease in the community, lack of access to colonoscopy, and confusion about other diseases like hemorrhoids, abdominal tuberculosis, and cancer.
The Department of Gastroenterology, PGI, celebrated the day to raise awareness about the condition and also to improve the care and treatment of patients living with IBD. Prof Usha Dutta, head, the Department of Gastroenterology, said that special lectures were organised where patients with IBD were educated about the disease, diagnostic tests, various treatment options, the role of diet, and health maintenance. Prof S K Sinha spoke about the nature and presentation of the disease, Dr Vishal Sharma spoke about the treatment options for the disease, and Prof Dutta spoke about the diet and lifestyle approaches for IBD.
“The incidence of the disease is increasing steadily in India, and there are many factors that are responsible for the rise, like a Westernised diet, lack of fresh fruits and vegetables in our diet, pesticides, stress, lack of sun, adulterated food, contaminated water, highly refined oils, which affect our intestine lining and the balance of good bacteria in the body is affected. It is paramount that people do not ignore symptoms like loose motions, pain in the abdomen, and blood in the stool, which continue for more than two weeks. A specialist must be consulted and no painkillers, steroids, or over-the-counter drugs must be used, which can cause further complications. Only medicines prescribed by a specialist must be taken, and alternative medicine treatments must be avoided. Also, treatment must not be stopped and regular follow-ups are essential to pick up early cancer. Most patients respond well to treatment, and in our OPDs, we do a follow-up of more than 1500 patients, with new patients added every month,” explains Prof Dutta.
As for the age group affected most by IBD, Prof Dutta adds, that it is seen across age groups, though the peak of IBD is seen in people between 20 and 40 years of age. Prof Dutta recommends early intervention by specialists, more awareness about the disease, changing our diets and adding more fresh and healthy food, use of natural probiotics like curd, lassi, and living an active and stress-free life.
On the occasion, an IBD card designed by the Department of Gastroenterology, in association with Colitis and Crohn’s Foundation, India was released. This card will provide a snapshot of the disease state and drug therapies with education material and will be helpful in improving various aspects of care including diet, preventive health, and medication. The card is designed with suggestions from other experts from AIIMS, Delhi, DMC, Ludhiana, and SGPGI, Lucknow. The card will be available to clinicians and gastroenterologists across the country for use and will be launched through a web meeting on World IBD Day.