Inflammatory bowel disease


Published in: Today Digital
Author: Dr. Luis Pérez Méndez, Gastroenterologist-hepatologist. Clinical Coordinator of the Hepatic Transplant Unit of the General Hospital of the Plaza de la Salud. 

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) groups a series of disorders of unknown cause associated with an inordinate immune response that produces lesions of varying depth and extent in the digestive tract, from the mouth to the anus.

The term IBD encompasses a group of clinical entities that are characterized as chronic inflammatory processes of unknown cause, and affect primarily, but not exclusively, the small intestine and colon.

At present, several entities are recognized that are encompassed in this concept: ulcerative colitis (UC), Crohn's disease (CD), unclassified colitis (IC), microscopic colitis (CM), and pouchitis. The symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease occur in the form of outbreaks, which occur throughout the life of the patient in more or less long intervals depending on the severity and the treatment being performed.

Precise and early diagnosis is one of the fundamental pillars to treat the set of pathologies that encompass inflammatory bowel disease. The first step is to make a complete and detailed clinical history in which the family history, life habits (tobacco, drink, diet), prescription drugs and experienced symptoms appear. The clinical history, the results of the tests and the symptoms are the ones that guide us to the specialists in the digestive system when it comes to planning a treatment. The medication in this type of diseases serves to treat the outbreaks, prevent their reappearance and, in general, to improve the quality of life of the patients. Some of the consequences of inflammatory bowel disease are weight loss, anemia and malnutrition, caused by the reduced intake of food (in case of suffering abdominal pain), problems of assimilation of nutrients and increased caloric expenditure because Inflammation is a process that consumes a lot of energy (calories).

The aim of the new diet is to prevent and correct these problems. As a general rule, patients should have a diet as varied as possible, paying special attention to the adequate intake of protein, iron and calcium.

There are no scientific endorsements that show that food can trigger an outbreak, so that first of all you should not stop eating any of them. The recommendations are directed according to the tolerance of each patient; However, during the period of an outbreak, special care must be taken with the intake of milk and fiber, as these could increase symptoms, such as diarrhea and abdominal pain, so it is recommended to limit their consumption (astringent diet).

Frequency. IBD is more common in Nordic countries. There is a discrete difference in sexes, with Crohn's disease being more frequent in men and ulcerative colitis more frequent in women.

It can appear at any age, but the highest incidence is reached around 15 to 30 years, it is more frequent in white and in Jews and more common in urban than rural areas, likewise, it is more frequent in high socioeconomic strata. Because of its frequency, this time we will refer to CU and EC: UC affects only the colon, while CD can affect any segment from the mouth to the anus.


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