In ulcerative colitis, patients are more concerned about inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) complications than treatment side effects. Lead author of the study Corey A. Siegel said, “Patients with ulcerative colitis are often faced with complex decisions regarding treatment of their disease. Due to concerns about starting immune suppressant therapy, a significant amount of time is spent in the clinic reviewing side effects of immunomodulators or biologics. However, our study showed that patients are actually more concerned about the long-term effects of their disease than adverse events of therapy.”
Respondents completed an online survey so researchers could better understand the aspects of disease management that are most worrisome to the patients.
There were 460 ulcerative colitis patients who completed the survey. The researchers found that patients’ biggest concerns were the increased risk of colon cancer (37 percent) and the possible need for an ostomy, a surgically created opening between the skin and a body organ (29 percent). Only 14 percent of respondents noted that they were concerned about treatment side effects.
Other concerns addressed surgical openings of the abdominal wall, surgery for treatment, biologics, steroids, methotrexate, and immunomodulators. Sixty-five percent chose surgery as their last resort for treatment, while 51 percent reported they wanted a better understanding of ulcerative colitis.
Dr. Siegel concluded, “Although providers do need to address benefits and risks of treatment, they also need to discuss the most effective methods of preventing complications such as colorectal cancer and colectomy.”
Complications of IBD and how to cope
Inflammatory bowel disease, like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, is a group of chronic intestinal conditions with no cure. Although medications and other treatments can help better manage the disease, living with IBD can increase your risk of other health complications.
Health complications associated with IBD include inflammation, which can lead to bleeding and diarrhea, bowel obstruction, ulcers, fistulas, anal fissures, malnutrition, and colon cancer, along with inflammation in other parts of the body including the eyes, skin or joints. Another possible complications are anemia, osteoporosis, inflammation of the liver or bile ducts, and complications brought on by the medications.
Although living with IBD can be stressful and can negatively impact a person’s quality of life, finding effective coping mechanisms can help you better manage your day-to-day experience. Some coping strategies include reaching out to a support group of people with IBD, educating yourself on your particular condition, and talking to a therapist, especially one who is familiar with IBDs.
Trying to manage IBD on your own can cause additional stress that can actually worsen your condition. Being able to reach out to others and reducing stress can make living with IBD more manageable.