A chronic intestinal disorder– such as colitis or Crohn’s disease– can have a considerable impact on everyday life. The prevalence was previously estimated at 2 in 1,000 people. A large-scale study at Maastricht UMC+ has revealed that in actual fact this figure is much higher.
Chronic intestinal inflammations (IBD) can have a huge impact on someone’s life. Ulcerative colitis is chronic inflammation of the mucous membrane of the large intestine, resulting in symptoms such as diarrhoea, abdominal pain, fatigue and fever. In Crohn’s disease, the inflammations occur throughout the entire gastrointestinal tract. Hereditary disposition, environmental factors, food and stress all play a role.
Since the early 1990s, Maastricht UMC+ has been monitoring almost all patients in South Limburg who suffer from a chronic intestinal inflammation. Along with the Sittard and Heerlen hospitals, they have set up the IBD South Limburg cohort. One thousand six hundred and seventy-five patients who suffer from ulcerative colitis and 1162 patients who suffer from Crohn’s disease participate. For the first time ever, the study has provided an accurate picture of IBD. The International Journal of Epidemiology has published the study.
The enormous quantity of data has revealed that the number of patients in the Netherlands is perhaps four times greater than previously thought. Instead of 2 in 1,000, this is actually 9 in 1,000. Every year, approximately 70 in 100,000 patients are added. This figure is also higher than previously thought.
“This extensive study shows that the problem is underestimated. A chronic intestinal disorder has a huge impact on everyday life. It is therefore even more important to support good research and to extend this further to other parts of the Netherlands, so that, in the future, patients will have a prospect of a much better quality of life”, said Tineke Markus, director of the Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis Association of the Netherlands (CCUVN).
Because intestinal disorders are often so difficult to treat, traditionally nutritional practice sees many patients with these symptoms. For many years, our therapists have fulfilled a pioneering role: together we have gathered a lot of expertise and skills about the treatment of intestinal disorders. Dietary interventions, stress reduction and supplementation with glutamine, prebiotics and probiotics play a central role in that. It is high time that the healthcare sector benefits from that.