Irritable bowel is a widespread disorder, the symptoms of which are very similar to those of Crohn’s disease, but the two diseases are quite distinct. Professor Silvio Danese, Head of the Centre for Chronic Inflammatory Intestinal Diseases at Humanitas, tried to clarify the situation on an interview at Radio 24.

“The symptoms of the two pathologies are very overlapping: often the patient feels pain and alteration of the intestinal regularity, but they are two completely different pathologies.


Two different diseases

Irritable bowel is a benign disease and does not evolve in serious or worrying conditions. Crohn’s disease, on the other hand, is a real inflammation that affects the intestine and can lead to complications, which is why patients often undergo multiple surgeries throughout their lives.

A loss of weight, the presence of anemia or increased inflammation indices, detectable by a blood test, should lead us to suspect that it is not an irritable bowel, but something more important.


Crohn’s disease, the novelties in care

From the classic drugs that were used to treat various inflammatory diseases, we now have intelligent therapies, so-called biological drugs.

These new drugs are capable of extinguishing the molecules responsible for inflammation; the first (inhibitor of the tumor necrosis factor) we have had for about twenty years, and then there are many new strategies: the fight against cytokines, small molecules that act as “gasoline” for inflammation; the possibility of putting “red lights” against white blood cells by diverting them from the inflamed intestine and then from their path of chronic inflammation; or with stem cells for serious fistulising diseases.