How early diagnosis of Inflammatory Bowel Disease can help in effective treatment

How early diagnosis of Inflammatory Bowel Disease can help in effective treatment

Many of us might have heard about IBD, however, there remain several myths in the minds of people regarding this condition. This leads to delayed diagnosis and inappropriate treatment leading to complications.

With the theme, ‘IBD has no Age’ the medical fraternity aims to put focus on the elderly and children and show how living with IBD is impacting their quality of life and care.

In India, around 1.5 million patients are affected by IBD in India, and the number is steadily rising in many countries in South East Asia. Several studies also suggest that the early diagnosis of the disease helps in reducing the long-term impact on overall health.

So, let’s deep dive into IBD, its symptoms, and how it can be diagnosed early for effective treatment.

What is IBD?

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is an intestinal disorder characterized by chronic inflammation of the digestive tract. This disease has no age bar and can affect people in childhood, middle age, or the elderly. Data shows that the sharp increase in IBD in many parts of Asia including India and is no longer a Western disease. All efforts to educate the population about the disease and strategies to stem the rapid rise by lifestyle and dietary changes are likely to yield results.

Types of IBD

Majorly there are two types of IBDs: Ulcerative Colitis (UC) and Crohn’s Disease (CD). While UC involves inflammation and sores (ulcers) along the superficial lining of the large intestine (colon) and rectum, the CD is characterized by inflammation of the lining of your digestive tract, which often can involve the deeper layers of the digestive tract, making it challenging to be diagnosed.

Common Symptoms of IBD: Usually a combination of mentioned symptoms can be found in patients with IBD:

Mucus or Blood in StoolDiarrhoeaFatigueJoint PainWeight lossIntestinal ScarringEye Inflammation

Diagnosis & Treatment: The diagnosis of IBD is not difficult; however, they get misdiagnosed as amoebiasis or piles. This can lead to delays in treatment and complications. An experienced doctor can easily suspect IBD and prove it using some tests. This may be a combination of stool and blood tests, colonoscopy and biopsies, and CT scans.

Endoscopic Procedures: The most efficient way to diagnose IBD is via Endoscopic Procedures as they provide a very clear and detailed view of the gastrointestinal tract. They can also differentiate between Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis.

Colonoscopy, Flexible sigmoidoscopy, Upper endoscopy, Sigmoidoscopy, and Capsule Endoscopy are some of the commonly known Endoscopic procedures.

Imaging Procedures:

Other Imaging Procedures involve a CT Scan—which helps in looking at the patient’s bowel system and other tissues placed on the outside of the bowel or a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) which uses a magnetic field and radio waves that are useful in evaluating a fistula around the anal area. An exciting development has been the use of bowel ultrasound in the diagnosis and follow-up of IBD. This is cheaper, safer, and involves no radiation.

Medication is important for effective IBD treatment. Currently, the medications mainly include aminosalicylates, corticosteroids, immunomodulators, biologics, and oral small molecules. In addition, surgery may be needed in some cases. The new developments include many new biologics and small molecules, fecal microbiota transplant, and stem cell therapy

Today, even as new treatments and therapies come into view as science and technology take a leap, there is still a long way to overcome the disease burden that IBD poses. However, timely communication and close cooperation between doctors and patients can facilitate the adoption and execution of effective treatment strategies.

In India, around 1.5 million patients are affected by IBD in India, and the number is steadily rising in many countries in South East Asia. 

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