Diarrhea, bloody stools, severe abdominal pain, drastic weight loss and even episodes of fever that lead to constant fatigue that makes it impossible to perform daily tasks. These are just some of the clearest symptoms that patients with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), chronic and autoimmune pathologies for which, after more than a century of research, The medical community has not yet found the exact causes of its development.
This makes them extremely complex diseases and, to this day, they are still There is no 100% effective cure.. However, medical advances in recent years have allowed patients to recover, to the extent possible, a large part of their quality of life.
Currently, they are known two types of IBD: ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Both manifest themselves in the form of outbreaks of variable intensitybut The first affects only the large intestinewhile the second can inflame any part of the digestive system and it is much more difficult to identify it. But this, as the doctor explains Francisco Mesonero, gastroenterologist and member of the IBD Unit of the Ramón y Cajal University Hospital, does not imply that one is more serious than the other, since “there are cases of Crohn’s in which there are no clear symptoms and the problem is detected by a minimal alteration, while others present a severe course of the disease and require surgery.” . To which he adds: “Exactly the same thing happens with ulcerative colitis.”
In Spain, according to data from the Confederation of Associations of Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis Patients (ACCU), IBD affects 1% of the population, that is, about 360,000 people. However, according to Mesonero, the analysis of incidence is more interesting on a medical level than that of prevalence, to learn more about the origins and future evolution of the disease.
«The incidence statistics reflect that there are 16 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, which places Spain at the level of other northern European countries. This fact gains even more relevance if we take into account that “about 50 years ago it was considered a disease of rich or highly industrialized countries. In Asia, South America or eastern and southern Europe the prevalence was almost residual. Today, thanks in part to globalization, the incidence increases in developing countries. Therefore, as the expert emphasizes, everything points to an inmore than notable influence of “environmental factorssuch as eating habits or exposure to pollution.