Study: Inflammatory Bowel Disease Makes Young People Five Times More Likely to Develop Infections


A new study has found that young people who have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are five times more likely to develop an infection than the general population. They also found that specific treatments given to those with IBD can increase this likelihood. These findings can better help healthcare professionals treat people with this condition. It also stresses the importance of preventative care so that people at a higher likelihood of infection do not develop one, as the infections associated with IBD can be dangerous and cause hospitalization or organ damage.

About Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a term used to describe a group of disorders that are characterized by chronic inflammation in the digestive tract. This group includes conditions like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. As IBD has the potential to cause life threatening complications, care is necessary for those with this disease.

Nobody knows the exact cause of IBD, but many suspect that it has to do with a malfunction of the immune system. Healthcare professionals suspect that an abnormal response of the immune system is triggered when it attempts to fight off viruses or bacteria, which causes the system to attack the cells within the digestive track as well.

While the cause is unknown, there are risk factors that can lead to or aggravate the disease. These factors include diet, stress, cigarettes, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications. Age is another factor, as the majority of people are diagnosed with IBD before age 30. This disease affects mainly white people. People of Ashkenazi Jewish descent are at an even higher risk. If one has a family history of IBD, there is a higher likelihood that they will develop this disease. Location can also affect IBD, as those living in industrialized countries or northern climates have a higher chance of developing it as well.

Symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease can vary depending on the location and severity of inflammation. It is common to experience periods of active symptoms followed by periods of remission. Active symptoms include diarrhea, fever, fatigue, abdominal pain, cramping, blood in stool, loss of appetite, and unintentional weight loss. If there is a sudden change in bowel habits or the presentation of these symptoms, it is recommended to see a doctor. Seeking treatment is important as complications of this disease include colon cancer, blood clots, primary sclerosing cholangitis, and inflammation of the eyes, joints, and skin.

About the Study

This study included about 2,700 IBD patients in a Paris referral center. It was meant to evaluate the effects of IBD and drugs used to treat it on serious viral infection (SVI). It discovered that while all patients who have this disease are at an increased likelihood of SVIs, younger patients between the ages of 18 and 35 are five times more likely to develop SVIs. It also found that thiopurines, which are used to treat about 60% of those with inflammatory bowel disease, increase the chance of one of these SVIs. The most common SVIs that participants developed were Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and cytomegalovirus (CMV). The adverse effects of thiopurines have caused up to one-third of those using them to discontinue their treatment.

The information found in this study will help doctors better treat their patients, and it will also help them to be more aware that their younger patients are at higher risks of SVIs and plan their treatment accordingly. As the number of cases of IBD have increased over the years, the need for safe, effective treatment is higher than ever. This study emphasizes the need for more research and development of new treatments for inflammatory bowel disease.

Find the original article here.

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