The Rise of Inflammatory Bowel Disease
There are many risks that come along with the Western diet. So much salt, sugar, and cholesterol can lead to heavily publicized issues like an increase in the obesity rate, diabetes, and heart problems. These are serious issues that countries across the world are struggling to deal with.
Another disease that often slips by the press when discussing these issues is inflammatory bowel disease or IBD. Inflammatory bowel disease (which includes the better known Crohn’s Disease) comes with many difficult symptoms, such as (according to GastroCare LI):
- severe diarrhea
- weight loss
- unexplained weight loss
- decreased appetite
- bloody stool
- abdominal pain
- abdominal cramps
Perhaps the fact that these symptoms are only severely uncomfortable and not life-threatening explains why IBD gets so little exposure as a serious problem. Yet, it affects a large percentage of this country and others. 3 million Americans suffer from IBD, which is about 1 percent of the country. And now, these issues are beginning to spread from the Western world to the rest of the planet. According to Science News, many countries aren’t prepared to deal with these diseases the way the West is, and more needs to be done to prepare for a massive outbreak of cases in more remote locations.
At the same time, the number of people suffering from IBD in America is also growing. That number of 3 million is more than double some previous estimates and suggests either the cases are underreported or they are increasing rapidly.
According to Live Science, these numbers are surprising for multiple reasons. Not only are there more cases, the cases aren’t associated with the same groups as before. More people over 45 are being diagnosed. That is surprising because it was once assumed that cases were usually found in those under 35. Among the groups most affected were Hispanics, Caucasians, and adults with less than a high school education.
One of the frustrating parts of IBD is how little is known about its cause. While it is clear that there are dietary and environmental causes (which are now spreading further and further across the globe), exactly which elements of those two trigger the response has yet to be determined. If science could pinpoint the exact cause, more might be done to not only treat the problem but to delay or stop it spreading further.
For now, medical communities are concentrating on getting the word out and preparing more parts of the world for outbreaks of this disease.
The Western lifestyle comes with many advantages, which for a long time, much of the world has been eager to enjoy as well. Unfortunately, those advantages also sometimes come with risks. IBD, the world will soon find out, is one of them.