Science

Nearly 1.5 mn patients in India suffer from inflammatory bowel disease: Study

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on May 19, 2020

India has an estimated 1.5 million patients affected by the Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), putting the country second only to the USA with 1.6 million patients, revealed a study carried out by Wellness 365, a community representing Indian medical professionals and practitioners.

The study reveals that these numbers are rising at a high single-digit rate, as Indians have a greater than average risk of getting the IBD.

To educate people and help them receive the appropriate medical intervention, the platform today launched a month-long campaign #ManageYourIBD, in association with leading Indian gastroenterologists from the key metro cities.

The campaign was launched in support of the May 19, 2020, the World IBD Day. This will complement the global movement with hashtag #MakeIBDwork.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease is an intestinal disorder that involves prolonged inflammation of the digestive tract and if left untreated can lead to irreversible damage to the intestines involving conditions like intestinal obstruction, intestinal perforation, and a higher risk of colorectal cancer.

IBD is not cured by regular medication and requires the involvement of a specialist often requiring long-term management. Broadly there are two types of IBD’s - Ulcerative Colitis (UC) and Crohn’s Disease (CD).

Explaining the symptoms, Dr. Rudrajit Sinha, Gastro-Intestinal Surgeon, Advanced Laparoscopy & Robotics, The Calcutta Medical Research Institute, Kolkata, said, “An IBD patient suffers from persistent abdominal cramps with irregular bowel habits and occasional passage of mucus and blood in stools. The disease is often associated with unexpected weight loss and the patient is resistant to usual treatments for stomach ailments.”

Diagnosis

The diagnosis for IBD’s can be challenging, explained Dr. Ajay Choksi, Consultant and Head, Dept. of Gastroenterology, Nanavati Hospital, Mumbai. “Many self-limited illnesses like bacterial infections and protozoal illnesses can mimic IBD on gross endoscopic and histologic findings but do not last beyond a month,” he said.

According to him, it may be impossible to differentiate between tuberculosis and Crohn’s disease which is when therapeutic trials and follow-ups may be required for a precise diagnosis. “Timely and early diagnosis increases the probability of inducing easy and durable remission of the disease. The vast majority of the patients can be successfully managed with medications,” he further added.

Elaborating on the risks and the available treatment options, Dr. Ajay Bhalla, Director & Head Gastroenterology, Fortis Hospital, Noida, said in an official statement: “Medical management remains the key modality in the treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases. In the case of ulcerative colitis, the need for surgical intervention is low at about 6 per cent for Indian patients while the worldwide average being about 10-12 per cent. Medical management with drugs like 5-ASAs, steroids, and azathioprine and use of biologics gives effective outcomes.”

Delving into the impact of the disease, if it is left untreated, Dr. Amarender Puri, Vice Chairman, Institute of Digestive and Hepatobiliary Sciences, Medanta, Gurugram, said: “There is a definite risk of colorectal cancer if IBD is left untreated. The risk is in direct proportion to the duration of the disease. It is negligible during the first 8-10 years but steadily increases thereafter. Currently, the risk is thought to be about 10 per cent among those with the disease for 25-30 years.”

According to Dr. Piyush Ranjan, Sr. Consultant, Institute of Liver Gastroenterology & Pancreatico Biliary Sciences, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, Delhi, factors like the socio-economic and demographic classification play a role in the incidence of the disease.

Published on May 19, 2020

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