With some simple lifestyle changes, patients with IBD can experience long-lasting relief from their symptoms.
About 1.6 million Americans suffer from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a set of conditions resulting in chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. Patients with IBD experience a variety of debilitating symptoms, including moderate to severe abdominal pain, recurring diarrhea or constipation, and unusually frequent bowel movements. These symptoms can create significant personal challenges, preventing patients from functioning and finding help for their condition.
IBD is currently incurable, but it isn’t untreatable. With some simple lifestyle adjustments, most patients can enjoy lasting relief from their symptoms. As you research possible treatment plans, we’ll outline some simple measures you can take to alleviate your symptoms and dramatically improve your quality of life.
Research Your Condition
IBD is a set of conditions, each of which requires a specific course of treatment. Patients with Crohn’s disease, for example, can experience pain in any region of the gastrointestinal tract, while patients with ulcerative colitis will likely notice symptoms only in the colon or rectum. Understanding what causes and aggravates your symptoms can help you develop a course of treatment that’s best suited to your condition.
Recent research suggests that regular exercise may minimize inflammation in patients with IBD, in addition to its usual effects on the musculoskeletal system. While current studies on the subject are still in progress, it’s likely that exercise at least improves a patient’s mental health, making it a worthwhile treatment option for anyone afflicted.
Avoid Trigger Foods
As a gastrointestinal disorder, IBD can be exacerbated by your diet. While patients should continue to follow as rounded a diet as possible, they should avoid foods or beverages that promote bowel movements such as prunes and coffee. Patients should also refrain from particularly sugary products such as juice and candy, since they can worsen diarrhea and constipation. Some patients may also benefit from eliminating lactose and alcohol.
Eat Smaller Servings More Frequently
Many patients with IBD find that their digestive system responds best to smaller meals eaten on a frequent basis. Moderating your eating habits can also help your body absorb nutrients.
It’s always a good idea to carry some emergency medications whenever you leave the house. While you may not need it, having some imodium or an anti-inflammatory on hand can give you the confidence you need to go about your day.
Build a Support System
Inflammatory bowel disease can be isolating. Since public awareness of it remains low, many patients struggle to find sympathetic listeners among their friends and colleagues, and many are unable to maintain employment for extended periods of time. Fortunately, there are numerous online support groups in which patients can speak with fellow victims, share their challenges, discuss treatment plans, and find the mental and emotional support they need. A reliable supporting network can provide you with the strength you need to manage your condition.
Find the Right Providers
Before you begin your treatment program, schedule an appointment with your doctor to receive a formal diagnosis. An experienced and empathetic professional will help you develop a treatment plan that’s designed to address your specific condition and remain a constant resource as you work to manage your symptoms. Your doctor can also refer you to clinical trial opportunities that might prove particularly beneficial to you, allowing you to find the care you need while helping the medical community test and refine treatments and potential cures for inflammatory bowel disease.IBD is a chronic condition, but with an effective treatment plan and a strong emotional support system, most patients can find lasting relief from their symptoms.
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) refers to a set of chronic conditions that cause inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract, usually in the small intestine or colon. The most common IBDs are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. These conditions aren’t just challenging on a physical level — they can often take a significant social and emotional toll as well. Low public awareness can create difficulties for patients, who often struggle to find and maintain employment and build emotional support systems.
Despite these obstacles, IBD isn’t untreatable. Indeed, some combination of medication and simple lifestyle adjustments can provide most patients with lasting relief from their symptoms, dramatically improving their quality of life. As you start developing your own treatment plan, we’ll offer you some tips on managing your condition.
The most common type of IBD, Crohn’s disease causes the body’s immune system to attack bacteria native to the gastrointestinal tract, resulting in severe inflammation. Since there isn’t an infection to kill, the inflammation doesn’t subside, causing debilitating pain. What causes this condition is still unknown.
Most patients with Crohn’s disease suffer from moderate to heavy abdominal pain, frequent bowel movements, recurring diarrhea, significant bloating, and constipation. High fever, weight loss, and chronic fatigue are also common symptoms. In more severe cases, patients may develop ulcers and fistulas, as well.
Treatments for Crohn’s disease will differ from patient to patient, but most cases respond favorably to a modified diet and anti-inflammatory medication. Antibiotics can also be used to treat any secondary infections. Some 75% of patients eventually require surgery, but conservative treatments should still continue after the procedure since symptoms can still resurface after it.
Like Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis causes the body’s immune system to mistakenly start an inflammatory response in the gastrointestinal tract. Because there’s nothing to kill, the inflammation never subsides, leaving the patient in great distress. What causes this response remains unknown.
Unlike Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis affects only the colon or rectum, but it shares many of the same symptoms, including moderate to severe abdominal pain, recurring diarrhea, and unusually frequent bowel movements. Many patients also report blood or pus in the stool and a loss of appetite. These symptoms often arise abruptly before subsiding, sometimes for months or even years.
As a form of IBD, many treatments for Crohn’s disease are used to treating ulcerative colitis as well. Reduced consumption of fiber and anti-inflammatory medications can alleviate many of the most common symptoms, while antibiotics can eliminate any secondary infections. About one-third of patients will eventually need surgery, but since symptoms can still recur after the procedure, patients should still follow a conservative treatment plan.
While a definitive cure has yet to be discovered, ongoing clinical research is helping us get closer by the day. In the meantime, patients suffering from Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis should consult their doctors to learn more about current treatment options, managing their conditions, and emerging new therapies.As challenging as ulcerative colitis can be, it isn’t untreatable. We’ll walk you through what you need to know about this chronic condition and help you find the right treatment plan. Inflammatory bowel disease (IBS) affects nearly 1.6 million Americans — and nearly 57% (907,000) of those cases are what’s known as ulcerative colitis. Ulcerative colitis causes the body’s immune system to attack the large intestine, resulting in inflammation and ulceration in the colon or rectum. While it’s similar to Crohn’s disease in some respects, ulcerative colitis affects only the inner lining of the large intestine rather than any segment of the gastrointestinal tract. Like Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis is a chronic condition. While many years can pass between outbreaks, most patients suffer from some recurring symptoms throughout their lives. Fortunately, an effective treatment program can greatly reduce the severity and frequency of outbreaks.
What Are the Primary Symptoms?The most common symptoms of ulcerative colitis include moderate to severe abdominal pain, recurring diarrhea, blood or pus in the stool, and unusually frequent bowel movements. Many patients also report high fevers, loss of appetite, and chronic fatigue. These symptoms often arise abruptly before subsiding, sometimes for months or even years.
What Causes Ulcerative Colitis?The cause of ulcerative colitis is unknown, but genetic predispositions are the most likely culprit. Since it prompts the immune system to attack the body itself, it might also be a product of an immune deficiency. A poor diet, heavy stress, and smoking can contribute to some of its symptoms, but they do not cause it on their own. As with Crohn’s disease, the symptoms of ulcerative colitis are caused by the body’s immune system, which mistakenly starts an inflammatory response in the large intestine. Since there isn’t an infection to kill, the inflammation doesn’t subside, leaving the patient with chronic pain. What Are the Existing Treatment Options for Ulcerative Colitis? Treatments for ulcerative colitis differ from patient to patient, but in most cases, some simple lifestyle adjustments and regular medications are enough to keep symptoms under control. Because ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory disease, non-prescription anti-inflammatories are often effective temporary solutions. More severe infections caused by the inflammation should be treated with an appropriate antibiotic, such as ciprofloxacin, while the inflammation itself can be suppressed with corticosteroids. As an intestinal disorder, ulcerative colitis can be greatly exacerbated by the patient’s diet. Foods rich in fiber, for example, will cause more bowel movements, heightening the risk of constipation and diarrhea, while hard and spicy foods require more effort to digest, increasing the frequency of stomach aches. Replacing these foods with soft and unseasoned alternatives will reduce stress on the digestive system, gradually alleviating symptoms. While most patients should pursue a conservative course of treatment, some 33% of patients with ulcerative colitis will need surgery. The most common procedure entails the total removal of the colon and rectum, which are then replaced with an ileostomy; in some cases, the surgeon can restructure the ileum as a pouch attached to the anal sphincter, ensuring that the patient’s bowels will continue to function. Since symptoms can still resurface after the procedure, patients should continue to follow their initial treatment program after surgery.
Working Together Towards the CureWhile there is no permanent cure for ulcerative colitis, ongoing clinical research is helping us get closer and closer to a definitive solution. That said, the medical community needs their patients’ help in order to move the ball forward. After taking a short examination to ensure that they’re eligible, patients can participate in fully funded clinical studies designed to test and refine new treatments for their condition, receiving needed relief while helping doctors improve the standard of care. If you’re suffering from ulcerative colitis, contact your doctor today and discuss the possibility of enrolling in a clinical study. You can also explore our Knowledge Center to learn more and search for opportunities in your area.
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) affects nearly 1.6 million Americans, representing an increase of 200,000 recorded cases since 2011. Crohn’s disease, a relatively rare form of IBD, causes the immune system to attack the gastrointestinal tract, resulting in severe inflammation. Its symptoms often flare up unpredictably, disrupting patients’ lives and causing them acute distress.
Crohn’s is a chronic condition, but it isn’t untreatable. While most patients suffer from some recurring symptoms, antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medications, and some simple lifestyle adjustments can dramatically reduce the severity and frequency of outbreaks.
What Causes Crohn’s Disease?
The symptoms of Crohn’s disease are caused by the body’s immune system, which mistakenly attacks bacteria native to the gastrointestinal tract. The immune system sends white blood cells into the intestines to start an inflammatory response, but since there isn’t an infection to kill, the inflammation doesn’t subside, leaving the patient with chronic pain.
The precise cause of Crohn’s disease is still unknown, however, though it’s likely a combination of genetic predispositions, inherited traits, and environmental factors. While diet, smoking, and stress can exacerbate the condition, they cannot cause it.
What Are the Primary Symptoms?
The most common symptoms of Crohn’s disease are moderate to heavy abdominal pain, frequent bowel movements, recurring diarrhea, significant bloating, and constipation. Many patients also report high fever, weight loss, and chronic fatigue. Particularly severe cases may also result in ulceration and fistulization.
What Are the Existing Treatment Options, and How Effective Are They?
Treatments for Crohn’s disease vary according to the condition’s severity, but with some simple lifestyle adjustments and the right medications, most patients can enjoy long-term relief from their condition.
Some prescription antibiotics and anti-inflammatories can temporarily resolve the most common symptoms of Crohn’s disease. Antibiotics such as ciprofloxacin can treat secondary infections and other complications, while corticosteroids can be taken to suppress the inflammatory response.
A modified diet can greatly alleviate the symptoms of Crohn’s disease by restoring needed nutrients and eliminating possible irritants. Avoiding foods rich in fiber, for example, lowers the risk of constipation and diarrhea, since the reduced intake of fiber will result in fewer bowel movements. Similarly, softer and unseasoned foods are much more easily digested than harder and spicier foods, reducing the frequency of debilitating stomach aches.
Even with these precautions, as many as 75% of patients with Crohn’s disease will need surgery, especially if they suffer from a fistula, fissure, or intestinal obstruction. Should surgery be necessary, the affected portion of the intestines will be removed and the remaining ends will be joined. While the procedure can provide long-lasting relief, the symptoms could still resurface later.
Is There a Cure?
While Crohn’s is treatable, a definitive cure has yet to be developed. However, the medical community is coming closer and closer every day, thanks to ongoing scientific research and clinical studies. In order to maintain progress and develop a cure, researchers need patients to enroll and participate in clinical trials. If you’re currently suffering from Crohn’s and would like to learn about clinical research opportunities, visit our Knowledge Center and discuss your options with your doctor.
New, highly effective treatments are on the horizon, but they will only be realized with the help and active participation of the entire Crohn’s community. Together, we can find a cure.With all of the advances in AI and machine-learning tech, will patients still turn to human doctors for diagnosis and treatment in the future? As it turns out, your irrational fear of a robot takeover might be more rational than you thought. McKinsey estimates that 51% of all job-related activities in the U.S. could easily be replicated by automated technologies. Of course, most of those jobs are entry- to mid-level in industries like retail, manufacturing, and foodservice. That said, considering the rate of technological advancement we’re currently seeing in areas like AI and machine learning, who’s to say that more demanding and nuanced professions like doctors and surgeons won’t be next Med School For Robots There are three reasons the idea of automated, AI-driven healthcare doesn’t freak me out: It would reduce and/or eliminate human error It would reduce healthcare costs (for consumers and providers) It would democratize access to vital treatments and/or diagnostic services As an example, let’s look at anesthesiology and radiology — two areas in medicine that are both extremely important and extremely costly. The now (in)famous Sedasys machine by Johnson and Johnson, though relegated solely to the realm of colonoscopies, was capable of autonomously administering anesthesia at a cost of approximately $150 to $200 per use. This was a fraction of the cost of using an actual anesthesiologist, which typically amounts to $2,000 each time. Though it has since been discontinued because of poor sales, it was deemed more proficient at monitoring human vitals than an actual doctor, which significantly lowered the risk of over-sedation. What’s more, it utilized a drug called propofol that required less recovery time (i.e., shorter hospitalizations), which ultimately allowed hospitals to perform more procedures per day and boost revenue. And while Sedasys is currently out of commission, researchers at the University of British Columbia are currently testing a device that can automate anesthesia for complicated brain and heart surgeries in both adults and children. Perhaps more than any other area of medicine, diagnostics is poised for an AI- and automated tech-driven disruption. Advances in deep learning, which involve training artificial neural networks to make new decisions based on immensely large quantities of data, are redefining what’s possible when it comes to early disease detection. This approach has proven particularly successful in neuroimaging. Enlitic, a San Francisco-based startup, has created a system that can identify malignant tumors 50% more accurately than humans. It also has a false-negative rate of 0%, compared to humans’ false-negative rate of 7%. A Collaborative Future Despite this article’s “provocative” title, I do actually think doctors will still exist in 20 years. Coping with an illness or injury is a complex, emotional process, and will always require a human touch. However, for areas of medicine that are fairly routine and repetitive, relying on automated technologies certainly makes a lot of sense. Most hospitals and medical practices are short-staffed, often struggling to keep pace with patient demand — especially as the number of chronic conditions, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease, continue to rise. The best way forward, in my view, is to adopt a collaborative approach to AI and machine learning tech in medicine. In other words, doctors shouldn’t be afraid for their jobs — they should utilize these technologies to improve the overall quality of care and level of access for patients in need of treatment. For example, robotic surgery combines machine learning with human intelligence in order to minimize scars, shorten hospital stays, hasten recovery time, and reduce costs for both the patient, and the provider. What’s more, while the age of AI and automation may result in the disappearance of some positions (watch out, anesthesiologists), it will undoubtedly bring with it countless new jobs that need to be filled — the kind of churn and change that can be expected when any industry goes through a period of modernization. At the end of the day, when you consider all of the benefits that these technologies have to offer, both from a patient and provider perspective, it’s hard to make the argument that this evolution is a bad thing — and personally, I’m excited to see what the future brings.Healthcare has officially entered the mobile age — it’s time for medical organizations to adjust their marketing strategies accordingly. According to Flurry Insights, Americans now spend more than five hours per day consuming digital content on their smartphones and tablets. That’s more than 150 hours per month! How are they filling all of that time? In addition to texting, calling, social media perusing, and basic internet browsing, more and more people are turning to their smartphones to conduct in-depth research on serious issues. Healthcare has become an increasingly mobile industry, with more than 62% of smartphone owners using their devices to look up information about a medical condition and/or treatment. As mobile’s role continues to grow in the patient path to treatment, medical marketers need to adjust their strategies if they want to remain visible in an increasingly competitive market. Here are three key areas to be aware of as we move into the second half of 2017 and beyond. 1. Click-to-Call Advertising Patients are increasingly turning to their mobile devices to conduct searches for local healthcare providers — in order to secure their business, medical practices and hospitals need to make it as easy as possible for them to get in touch for more information or to book a new appointment. Click-to-call (CTC) advertising enables seamless, one-touch dialing for patients the moment they stumble upon your medical brand when conducting an online search. In other words, a prospective patient will see your ad, tap the number on the screen, and be automatically connected with your staff. From a consumer perspective, that’s a whole lot easier than navigating your website and hunting down a phone number — especially when they’re on-the-go. Unsurprisingly, 70% of consumers make use of CTC ads, which account for 60% of all product and services-related phone calls. 2. Social Advertising Today, the average U.S. consumer spends more than two hours per day on social media platforms (that number skyrockets to a mind-boggling nine hours for teens!) It therefore follows that if you want to get someone’s attention online, social networks are a good place to start. Importantly, consumers are increasingly relying on social media platforms like Facebook when making important life decisions — in fact, 90% of individuals between the ages of 19 and 24 say they would trust health information that they find through social channels, and 40% rely on information they find on social when making decisions about treatment. Social ads are a great way to boost the visibility of your practice or hospital among your target demographic. Facebook’s powerful targeting capabilities and massive audience make it particularly well-suited for healthcare marketing, enabling providers to hone in on niche audiences with personalized messaging in order to attract new patients at minimal cost. 3. Accelerated Mobile Pages Back in 2015, the Google and Twitter-backed Accelerated Mobile Page (AMP) project was born out of a desire to help web publishers build pages and ads that are “consistently fast, beautiful and high-performing across devices and distribution platforms.” In short, they recognized that mobile was on the rise, and developed AMPs to improve the mobile browsing experience. e engaging experience on mobile and desktop. While Google has stated that AMP content isn’t factoring into page rankings (yet!), it provides value in other areas — in addition to improving the user experience with faster load times and easier navigation, a recent Search Engine Journal survey found that 50% of internet users are much more likely to click on an AMP link than a regular one. These three strategies are all cost-effective, simple to implement, and will likely make a big difference when it comes to boosting your practice or hospital’s marketing ROI. At the end of the day, there’s no shortage of patients out there who are in need of your services — you just need to make sure your marketing efforts are being made in the right areas.The FDA is recognizing the importance of patient engagement in the clinical trial enrollment process — it’s time the industry followed suit. It’s no secret that in the clinical research world, patient enrollment remains one of the biggest roadblocks to success. Approximately 29% of a given clinical trial’s total expenses can be attributed to the enrollment process. Moreover, each day that a drug development program is delayed can cost sponsors as much as $37,000 and represent between $600,000 and $8 million in lost sales opportunities. To make matters more complicated, the FDA is increasing its emphasis on participant diversity — in terms of age, gender, and ethnicity — in order to maximize the safety and efficacy of a new drug or device. That means that going forward, clinical trials will need source more participants across more demographics in order to secure approvals in a timely and cost-effective manner. Improving Patient Participation Right now, “patient engagement” and “patient centricity” are top-of-mind for the industry at large — two related concepts that everyone agrees will play an integral role in our ability to improve clinical recruitment and retention going forward. The FDA has recognized this as well and is spearheading a number of initiatives to help improve the clinical trial experience, outcomes, and ultimately, lower the cost of care for patients. As Jill Wechsler, writing for Applied Clinical Trials, points out, the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH) just launched a new Patient Engagement Advisory Committee (PEAC), which will be examining “factors that may deter patient participation in clinical trials.” It will also host a panel of “experienced patient advocates and disease group leaders” at its inaugural meeting, October 11 to 12, 2017, to discuss clinical trial design and medical device conduct from a patient perspective. Last year, she reminds us, the FDA launched an awareness campaign intended to educate “Hispanics and other minority groups about the importance of biomedical research and need for broad participation in clinical studies.” One of the campaign’s primary aims is to “encourage physician and health centers to steer patients to appropriate trials or resources on clinical research.” The organization is also looking into the cause of the current lack of older clinical trial participants, which is seriously hampering the industry’s ability to bring new treatments to market for conditions that typically affect the elderly, like cancer and alzheimer’s. What the Industry Can Do Pharmaceutical and medical device companies need to recognize the direction the FDA is headed in and follow suit — that means adopting a patient-centric approach to trial design and execution, and making patient engagement and awareness a top priority. If the industry wants its message to be heard, it needs to start embracing tactics and processes that are aligned with participant expectations and preferences. With patients increasingly relying on digital media and technologies to take control of their health, clinical trials need to ensure they’re providing enough information to position themselves as viable treatment options — and that they’re doing so via the proper channels. For example, now that 77% of Americans own smartphones, mobile represents a massive opportunity to connect with a more diverse array of prospective clinical trial participants, more cost-effectively than ever before. Sponsors can leverage digital advertising platforms like Facebook and Google to identify qualified patients, then provide them with the resources they need to get the treatment they deserve.Patient diversity in clinical trials is improving slowly — here’s one solution that might help speed things up. The FDA has released new data on participant diversity in clinical trials conducted in 2015 and 2016. Last year, of the more than 31,000 patients who enrolled in studies for new medical products: 48% were women (up 8% from 2015) 7% were African American (up 2% from 2015) 11% were Asian American (down 1% from 2015) 76% were white (down 3% from 2015) The data suggests, at least broadly speaking, that clinical trial diversity is on rise; however, we still have a long way to go in terms of ensuring study participation is representative of the general population. In a recent report, researchers Sheila N. Bello-Irizarry and Lauren Neighbours highlight the fact that African Americans represent 12% of the U.S. population, but only 7% of clinical trial participants. Similarly, Hispanics make up 16% of the U.S. population, but only 1% of clinical trial participants. In cardiovascular medical device trials, gender distribution is 67% male, 33% female, despite the fact that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. for both men and women. Demographic Disconnect The FDA’s increased emphasis on clinical trial diversity makes a great deal of sense, especially considering the relationship between certain diseases and ethnicity. Bello-Irizarry and Neighbours explain that type 2 diabetes, stroke, heart disease, infectious diseases (HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, STDs), and specific types of cancer “disproportionately affect ethnic minorities.” They also point out that “Differences in response to medical products have already been observed in racially and ethnically distinct subgroups of the U.S. population.” Racial and ethnic groups currently defined as “minorities” will make up more than 50% of the U.S. population by 2050 — Hispanics alone will account for 29%. As such, we need to ensure that clinical trials represent the ethnic and racial composition of their respective patient populations, to ensure the data generated from the study is applicable to those who are in most need of the treatment being developed. Using Digital Media to Increase Clinical Trial Diversity Effectively addressing the issue of patient diversity in clinical trials will require an industry-wide commitment and a multi-faceted approach. In my opinion, however, digital media is an obvious and immediately impactful solution that should not be overlooked. The primary roadblock to increased participation is a lack of patient knowledge and awareness — we simply need to connect more minority patients with relevant clinical studies, and ensure they have the information they need to feel comfortable about participating. Facebook, for example, has more than 1.94 billion active monthly users, but the audience isn’t just massive — it’s incredibly diverse as well. Here’s a quick overview of a few of Facebook’s key demographics: 28.03 million Latino users 20.6 million African American users 86.87 million female users Facebook’s advertising platform allows sponsors and CROs to target users based on their demonstrated “ethnic affinity,” in order to provide highly informative and engaging content about relevant clinical studies. This tactic, in conjunction with multilingual staff at call centers and investigator sites, could significantly improve the reach and outcomes of a given trial’s recruitment efforts. To learn more about how to leverage Facebook as a patient recruitment engine, be sure to download our latest white paper, “Social Media and Clinical Trials,” below.