Inflammatory bowel disease, otherwise known as IBD, is a condition that few of us would like to think about, and that’s understandable. But what’s worse than the fact that many of us don’t even know what it is? The risk of doubling your chances of developing dementia. In the appropriately named online medical journal, Gut, a comprehensive study was published detailing this phenomenon.
Just what were the findings, and why should we be on the lookout for symptoms? Let’s explore in more detail.
What is IBD?
First off, let’s quickly revisit the definition of IBD. The Mayo Clinic classifies the condition as really a collection of various sub-disorders such as ulcers and Crohn’s disease that culminate in the inflammation of the digestive tract, though other areas such as the rectum can also be rather unpleasantly targeted. Symptoms can include severe diarrhea, abdominal pain, unexpected weight loss, fatigue, and more, and the condition is often debilitating if not fatal due to subsequent complications. Don’t be afraid to get tested – it can save you a lot of trouble!
The Link to Dementia
The Gut study presents compelling, if unsettling, evidence that dementia can be diagnosed in individuals living with IBD around seven years earlier than in those without the condition. Experts are led to believe that there is a communications link between the gut, subsequent microbiomes and our central nervous system that is severed or interrupted when IBD is present. The result is a less effective immune response to bacterial changes in the gut itself, but the real danger is that other communications via the central nervous system that connect to the mind are also impaired. This is what researchers are led to believe is the catalyst for early-onset dementia development in IBD sufferers.
The best we can do right now is to get tested regularly for IBD, followed by examinations to catch dementia before it advances to a more debilitating stage. Catching it early doesn’t stop it, but proper treatment can help to suppress or slow the evolution of symptoms. Meanwhile, scientists are continuing their research on this connection to verify, with certainty, how dangerous it is.
Arming ourselves with the latest knowledge and taking proactive actions to reduce our risk of health complications is essential, now more than ever. Our bodies are like giant computer systems; a single “glitch” or “error” can easily lead to complications that are more difficult to “fix” later on. Get tested and keep a close eye on how you’re feeling – our team is happy to help in any way we can!
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