Inflammatory Bowel Disease: The new age health challenge

DR VARADRAJ GOKAK | MAY 19, 2024, 12:17 AM IST

May 19 is celebrated as World IBD Day across the globe. IBD stands for Inflammatory Bowel Diseases and has two main types: Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease.

The incidence of IBD in India is increasing. According to a recent study published in The Lancet journal, the prevalence of IBD in South India is 5%, compared to 0.1% in 2006. IBD can affect any gender and age group, but it is most common between the ages of 20 and 50. Diagnosis is often delayed due to a lack of awareness about the disease in the community, limited access to diagnostic modalities, and expert opinions. Genetics, immune response, and changes in dietary patterns also play a role in the causation of this disease.

India is believed to have the second-largest patient base of IBD globally after the USA, and it is expected to increase in the coming years. Some studies attribute the increasing prevalence to the westernisation of the diet, including the use of ultra-processed foods and a reduction in healthy fibres.

IBD symptoms are diverse and non-specific, leading to delays in diagnosis and treatment. Most patients experience long-standing diarrhoea, blood in stools, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, weight loss, and intestinal obstruction. Crohn’s Disease is commonly confused with intestinal TB due to similar presentation and clinical features. Similar to other chronic illnesses like hypertension and diabetes, IBD takes a toll on the physical, mental, and financial health of patients. Many go through a cycle of denial, searching for a permanent cure elsewhere and stopping standard therapy, often resulting in reactivation or flare of the disease.

The good news is that with appropriate therapy, patients often lead a near-normal life once the disease is under control. Recent research has identified specific inflammatory mediators (molecules) responsible for the pathogenesis of IBD, which can be targeted for better response if the first-line treatment fails. Surgery is needed in some selected cases of Crohn’s Disease/Ulcerative Colitis. IBD can be controlled with early diagnosis and appropriate treatment.


-  Eat hygienic, well-cooked, and balanced meals.

- Increase fibre intake.

- Reduce fried and fast food consumption.

- Avoid eating out as hygiene may be a concern for superadded infections.

- Avoid painkillers (NSAIDs) and antibiotics unless prescribed.

- Be compliant with your treatment and have regular follow-ups.


- Blood in stools

- Long-standing or recurrent diarrhea.

- Urgency or increased bowel movement.

- Recurrent abdominal pain.

- Unexplained weight loss/anemia.

- Non-healing/complex perianal fistula.

Dr Varadaraj Gokak, Chief Gastroenterologist and Hepatologist, and Dr. Ganesh Koppad, Consultant Gastroenterologist and Hepatologist, will be available at Arihant Hospital to provide the best treatment for any of the above symptoms. Contact us at the Gastroenterology Department, Arihant Hospital Belagavi.

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