About 25,000 Portuguese live with inflammatory bowel disease

When, at 15, 20 or 25, someone learns that he will have a disease for life, the information is not easy to manage. And when the pathology in question has a high disabling aspect, acceptance is even more complicated. That is why, as Ana Sampaio says, it is essential to guarantee nutritional and psychological support to overcome the initial fear. At the Portuguese Association of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (APDI), of which he is president, consultations are available with psychologists and nutritionists, with great knowledge of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, who help patients to overcome the most difficult stages.

The head of the association, herself a carrier of Crohn’s disease, knows firsthand the difficulties of living with this diagnosis. Twenty-two years ago, when he heard the news, the outlook was far less encouraging. “It used to be very common for people to know that every five or ten years they were going to have surgery, but not anymore.”

Today the reality is very different and despite the diagnostic difficulties, the therapies are less aggressive and guarantee a better quality of life. “I usually tell young people who are diagnosed today that they don’t know what Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis was before 2000. It was really quite painful”, reinforces Ana Sampaio, who remembers the day when she first visited the association he chairs today. “I saw other colleagues’ stomachs full of scars, but they all had a smile on their face.”

The new therapies guarantee a better quality of life and avoid the frequent operations that patients had to undergo.

Demystifying these diseases and ensuring better information for the population was also the objective of the conversation that brought together Ana Sampaio and Paula Lago, gastroenterologist at the Centro Hospitalar e Universitário do Porto (CHUP), held yesterday, date on which the International On celebrates Inflammatory Diseases Day, and which you can see in full on the Diário de Notícias website. It was also the first of the cycle “Dialogues: health and future”, an initiative of the newspaper in partnership with AbbVie.

More effective therapies and 100% reimbursement

But what, after all, are IBD? “We are talking about two inflammatory diseases – Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis – which affect the digestive tract”, explains Paula Lago. But, although they are part of the same group of pathologies, the two diseases are distinct, since the first can affect the entire digestive tract, from the mouth to the anus, while in ulcerative colitis, the inflammation affects only the large intestine, with inflammation that manifests as sores inside the digestive tract. In common, they have difficulty in diagnosis.

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