World IBD Day 2022

16th May 2022

On World Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Day every year (19th May), patient organisations come together from all over the globe to raise awareness of Crohn’s disease & colitis.

What is IBD?

Inflammatory Bowel Diseases are a group of digestive conditions that are characterised by chronic inflammation of the digestive system. These include Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and microscopic colitis.

As different forms of IBD can affect different parts of the digestive system, symptoms can differ from person to person.

Crohn’s disease:

Crohn’s disease is where inflammation develops in various parts of the gut, anywhere from the mouth to the anus can be affected. It is thought that this develops because the gut disease fighting system (immune system) reacts abnormally to bacteria at the surface of the gut. Genes are thought to play a part too, as are environmental factors.

Symptoms of Crohn’s disease include:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Blood or mucus in the poo
  • Weight loss
  • Generally feeling unwell

1 in 4 of those diagnosed are under 18 years of age, and around 1 in 650 people have Crohn’s disease.

Ulcerative colitis:

The term ‘colitis’ means the large bowel has become inflamed (swollen) and if this becomes severe enough, ulcers (painful sores) can form in the lining of the large bowel. Ulcerative colitis usually affects the rectum, but can involve varying parts of the bowel. Like Crohn’s disease,  most doctors now think ulcerative colitis is linked to how patients react to harmless ‘friendly’ bacteria that everyone has in their large bowel.

Symptoms of ulcerative colitis include:

  • Diarrhoea (however constipation can be common with proctitis, inflammation of the lining of the rectum)
  • Bleeding from the back passage
  • Urgency
  • Abdominal pain
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Generally feeling unwell
  • Sore eyes, painful spots and skin rashes

The peak age of incidence is between 15-25 years old and a smaller peak amongst 55-65 year olds. Ulcerative colitis is thought to affect around 1 in 420 people.

Microscopic colitis:

Diagnosing microscopic colitis can be different to diagnosing Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. This is because when doctors look at your gut with a camera (endoscope), microscopic colitis cannot be seen. The poo test often used for IBD (faecal calprotectin) may not identify microscopic colitis. A sample of tissue (biopsy) has to be taken from the bowel and looked at under a microscope, hence the name ‘microscopic’ colitis.

Symptoms of microscopic colitis include:

  • Watery diarrhoea
  • Urgency to use the toilet
  • Incontinence episodes
  • Waking during the night to empty the bowel
  • Frequent need to empty the bowel

There are 17,000 new cases of microscopic colitis diagnosed each year, though the real number is thought to be much higher. Most of those with microscopic colitis are women, diagnosed between 50-70 years old.

I have IBD, how can I raise awareness?

Guts UK funds research into the digestive system from top to tail; the gut, liver and pancreas. We also provide expert information in digestive conditions and raise awareness of digestive health. There’s a crippling taboo surrounding our guts. No one should suffer in silence, or alone with their symptoms.

  • Our first #GUTSelfie Campaign allowed the digestive disease community, including those with IBD to come together and share their experiences online. If you’re open to talking about your IBD experience online, get involved in #GUTSelfie 2022 here.

Discover some of our latest IBD research projects below:

Crohn's disease - Prof. Lord

Professor Graham Lord and his team are hoping to expand knowledge surrounding immune cells, known as T cells. There are two types of T cells, and scientists suspect that the balance between these cells is important to determine whether a person develops Crohn’s disease.

> Discover more here

'Leaky gut symdrome' with IBD - Prof. Hogstrand

Professor Christer Hogstrand and his team are exploring ‘leaky gut syndrome’ with IBD. We all have cells on the inside layer of our bowel. These cells are tightly bonded together as a seal to act as a barrier against harmful bacteria or other harmful agents. Unfortunately, with ‘leaky gut’ syndrome these tight bonds become looser and the bowel becomes more porous (meaning liquid can pass through easier). Prof. Hogstrand and his team hope to fully understand how these tight bonds in the bowel develop, this research could lead to a new way to control and prevent ‘leaky gut’.

> Discover more here

Discover more:

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  • tiktok
  • instagram

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