inflammatory bowel disease

New data released by Crohn’s & Colitis UK has revealed that the number of people suffering with Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis is much higher than previously thought.

The latest research, dubbed the largest study of its kind, predicts the prevalence of these conditions is set to increase further. According to the study, more than half a million people in the UK are living with an inflammatory bowel disease. This has led to concerns over the capacity of the health system to treat sufferers of these conditions.

Here, we will look at what the new study found, and why it matters.

Understanding the new research

Crohn’s & Colitis UK funded the new research which was carried out by the University of Nottingham. Scientists measured the incidence and prevalence of the two conditions over the past 20 years. It is thought to be the largest study of its kind, taking data from a total of 38.3 million people.

The research revealed that an average of 0.81% of the UK population, or approximately one in every 123 people, live with Colitis or Crohn’s Disease. It also discovered that the prevalence of the conditions increased drastically with age. For those in their 70’, around 1 in every 67 people suffer with Crohn’s or Colitis.

Worryingly, the results of the study show that there are twice as many people suffering the conditions than previously thought.

What are Crohn’s Disease and Colitis?

Crohn’s Disease and Colitis are two inflammatory bowel disease conditions, causing symptoms such as bloating, stomach cramps, tiredness, blood in the stools, and weight loss. The symptoms are similar to those of bowel cancer, making it crucial that patients seek a diagnosis as quickly as possible.

Crohn’s Disease affects anywhere in the gut from mouth to anus. It can occur at any age, with symptoms most frequently starting during childhood or early adulthood. There currently is no cure for the disease, though it can be controlled with numerous treatments.

Ulcerative Colitis causes the colon and rectum to become inflamed. It tends to cause frequent diarrhoea, stomach pain, and a need to empty the bowels more frequently. Like Crohn’s Disease, it is a lifelong condition that tends to develop between the ages of 15-25. Major surgery can provide a cure but  with so many novel medical treatments surgery is becoming less important to manage the disease.

Treating Crohn’s and Colitis

The treatments available for Crohn’s and Colitis focus on managing the symptoms of the conditions. Medications tend to be one of the most common types of treatments available, including immunosuppressants and corticosteroids. Lifestyle changes such as following a healthy and controlled diet can also help.

In severe cases where medications and lifestyle changes don’t help, surgery may be required. In Crohn’s Disease, part of the digestive system may need to be removed, while in Colitis sufferers, part of the colon may need to be taken out.

If you have been diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease, book a consultation today to discover the best treatment plan to get your symptoms under control.