New developments in drugs and technology have greatly improved treatment for a variety of diseases, one of them being inflammatory bowel disease. These developments have bettered the lives of many patients, and doctors hope for more improvements in the future. But one improvement has to do with disease management rather than the drugs or technology themselves. Healthcare professionals have found that monitoring disease onset and pathology, along with the approach to the treatment as a whole, are much more important than the drugs or technologies used. Doctors are hopeful that improvements in these things will help to better the lives of patients and make their treatment more successful.
About Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a group of conditions like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, all of which are characterized by inflammation in the digestive tract. Complications of this disease are serious and have the potential to be life-threatening.
It is suspected that IBD is caused by an immune system malfunction, but the exact cause of the disease is unknown. It is possible that while the immune system tries to fight off bacterial illnesses or viruses, it attacks the cells of the digestive tract as well, due to a triggering of an abnormal response. While the cause itself is unknown, there are factors that are known to lead to or aggravate IBD. They include cigarettes, diet, stress, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications. Another factor is age, as most people tend to be diagnosed with IBD before they are 30. Race can play a role as well, as white people are more likely to have this disease. If one is of Ashkenazi Jewish descent, they are at an even higher risk. Environmental factors may also lead to or aggravate IBD, as those living in a northern climate or industrialized country are more likely to have inflammatory bowel disease.
The location and severity of inflammation impact the symptoms for this disease, causing them to vary from patient to patient. Many people experience periods of active symptoms followed by periods of remission. Diarrhea, fever, fatigue, abdominal pain, cramping, blood in one’s stool, loss of appetite, and unintentional weight loss are all possible symptoms of IBD. If one experiences these symptoms or a sudden change in bowel habits, it is recommended that they see a doctor. Complications include colon cancer, blood clots, inflammation of the eyes, skin, and joints, and primary sclerosing cholangitis.
New Developments in Treatment for IBD
The mindset of doctors when it comes to treating IBD has changed greatly over the last decade. This change is in part because of new drugs and technologies that have become available, but it is also because of the move away from symptomatic treatment. The understanding of the disease itself has become very important when it comes to onset and pathology. With this new understanding, doctors have been able to improve achievements and patient outcomes, and they have also been able to lower the risk of recurrence. Treatment is now targeting the disease itself rather than just the symptoms.
Along with this new understanding, doctors have also been focusing on convenience for patients and sharing decisions with them. Ensuring patient comfort is necessary, which is an idea that is stressed by Dr. David Rubin. With the development of so many new drugs, patients have the choice to stay on or discontinue their use of certain medications. He also stresses the idea of changing the natural disease course. These new drugs have made this change possible as well. As older medications were used for symptom management, doctors were unable to modify the disease course. New medications have allowed them to cycle therapies and effectively change the natural course of IBD.
New drugs like vedolizumab and ustekinumab have also helped patients reach remission. Vedolizumab may also create a new class of treatments, as it targets the gut and bowels specifically. Both of these drugs may also lead to the replacement of corticosteroids, which can cause severe problems over long term use.
Monitoring and scoping postoperative patients has also greatly improved treatment, as it allows doctors to predict recurrence. New therapies and methods of treatment not only allow doctors to predict recurrence, but it also helps them to prevent it. As drugs, technologies, and methods are always improving, doctors are hopeful that the lives of patients will improve with them.
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