Increase in young people suffering from inflammatory bowel diseases
23 January 2013
In Europe, about three million patients suffer
from an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), crohn’s disease and
ulcerative colitis with a peak occurring between the ages of 20 and 30.
The number of people suffering from chronic inflammatory
diseases has increased by ten to 15 times in highly developed countries
over the last five decades.
Chronic inflammatory diseases include asthma, diabetes mellitus type
1, multiple sclerosis and various types of chronic inflammatory
bowel disease (IBD). Children and adolescents are
increasingly becoming more affected by all these.
The European Crohn’s and Colitis Organisation (ECCO)
and the European Federation of Crohn's and Ulcerative Colitis
Associations (EFCCA) call for attention and collective action over
the increase in IBD.
Univ. Prof Dr Walter Reinisch, of Vienna General Hospital –
Medical University Vienna, said, "The genetic disposition can only explain
a small amount of these diseases. The major triggers of chronic
inflammatory diseases are environmental factors.” An inaccurate and
unbalanced diet, drugs like antibiotics, smoking, stress, the
lifestyle and living environment in cities and increased hygiene
seem to be the main reasons which lead to inflammatory diseases. The
Viennese gastroenterologist has dealt with different types of
chronic inflammatory diseases for decades, especially in IBD.
Massive increase in chronic inflammatory bowel disease
Stomach ache, diarrhoea lasting for weeks, loss of weight,
fatigue, loss of power, fever: if such symptoms keep occurring in
intervals this could be an indication for IBD. The ordeal of
patients is part of their daily life. It is an enormous constraint
if a patient has to use the toilet up to 20 unforeseen times a day.
At times patients and doctors report that social contacts are
abruptly ended as IBD has such an impact on their social lives.
Reinisch underlines the importance of a focused fight for
enhanced bowel health. “We experience an epidemic of diseases
concerning the bowel which was not the case 50 years ago. The amount
of young patients with chronic diseases is rapidly increasing. The
number of children which needed stationary treatment due to heavy
chronic IBD has doubled in Austria during the last 15 years. Also,
the mortality rate doubles within IBD patients under the age of 25.”
Despite intensive research still no cure in sight
Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are chronic diseases which
affect patients throughout their whole life. Typically, women and
men are equally concerned by these diseases which usually start
between the second and third life decade.
However, children are also affected. In many cases there is no
explicit evidence for crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis in
diagnostic findings. Therefore, further examinations, especially
colonoscopies, are necessary. Due to state-of-the-art therapies, the
disease is adequately treatable today, although there is still no
actual cure in spite of intensive research.
Crohn’s disease: insufficient knowledge often leads to deferred
Due to insufficient knowledge about symptoms and alarm signals it
can take months to years from the occurrence of first symptoms to
actual diagnosis of crohn’s disease. Some functional disorders of
the gastrointestinal tract show similar symptoms. The observation of
typical crohn’s disease signals is therefore highly important, for
example blood in stool, inflammation signs in blood or stool, fever
or joint pain. Crohn’s disease can affect the entire digestive
tract, from mouth to anal orifice. According to the figures in ECCO
guidelines, crohn’s disease leads to surgical intervention in 60
% of all cases at present.
Van Assche G et al. ECCO Guidelines on CD. J Crohns
Colitis 2010;4:7-27; ECCO Guidelines on UC /Dignass et al J Crohns
Hosts of these events are ECCO –
European Crohn´s and Colitis Organisation:
EFCCA – European Federation of Crohn´s and Ulcerative Colitis
Up-to-date figures and research results
Up-to-date figures and research results in the area of IBD will
be published during the press conference “Join the fight against
IBD” on February 13, 2013 in Vienna, followed by a discussion
regarding “Crohn’s and Colitis in Europe: The burden of disease in
young people“ on February 14, 2013. See: