Irritable bowel syndrome is a very common ailment, whose symptoms are similar to those of Crohn’s disease. However, the two diseases are very different. Professor Silvio Danese, Supervisor of the Center for Chronic Inflammatory Bowel Diseases at Humanitas, spoke about this in an interview for Radio 24.
The two diseases have many overlapping symptoms, such as pain and alterations in the intestinal regularity of patients. However, they are completely different ailments.
Two Different Diseases
Irritable bowel disease is a benign ailment and it does not evolve into severe or worrying conditions.
Crohn’s disease, instead, is a proper inflammation that affects the intestine and may lead to complications. Hence patients need to undergo many surgical operations during their life.
Weight loss, anaemia and increased inflammation indexes (measured via blood exams) indicate that the patient is not suffering from irritable bowel, but from something else.
Crohn’s Disease: Developments in the Treatment
Initially, there were simple medications to treat different inflammatory diseases, but nowadays we have intelligent therapies at our disposal. The so-called biological medications.
These new medications are able to deactivate the molecules causing the inflammation. The first one (tumour necrosis factor inhibitor) has been used for twenty years. Among the new strategies, there is, the fight against cytokines (tiny molecules feeding the inflammation), the possibility of steering white blood cells from going into the inflamed intestine (thus interrupting the cycle of chronic inflammation), and stem cells against acute fistulizing disease.