Poor sanitary practices could cause inflammatory bowel disease, physician warns


Amarachi Okeh

A Professor of Medicine, Casimir Omuemu has warned Nigerians against poor sanitary practices, noting that it can cause inflammatory bowel disease.

According to the American Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, inflammatory bowel disease is a term for two conditions (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis) that are characterised by chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract.

The CDC also stated that there’s a difference between IBD and irritable bowel syndrome which is not caused by inflammation, adding the tissues of the bowel are not damaged in irritable bowel syndrome the way they are in IBD.

According to professor Omuemu, while the cause of the disease is not known, it can be traced to the patients’ genes and could also be caused by poor sanitary conditions that are prevalent in the country.

“In our environment, I wouldn’t want to say that any risk factor is of note. It is more of a familial thing that goes on. It is not common in blacks.

“Another thing is this, a lot of our people have infectious causes of bowel diseases so they mask it and most people don’t know they have it,” he said.

Explaining he said, “We have a lot of infections in our environment because of our poor hygiene status and things like that could cause it.”

Speaking of the symptoms, Omuemu said, “the most common symptoms are abdominal pain, cramps, diarrhoea typically with blood and mucus in it.”

The CDC, however, also added that both ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are characterised by rectal bleeding and fatigue.

The professor noted that the disease is quite rare affecting about one in 10, 1000 people. He also said the disease is hardly found among black, however, it could occur.

In addition to this, Omuemu added that IBD affects majorly women stating that the chances of developing the disease increases as women age.

Omuemu said if the condition is left untreated, it could cause weight loss in the patient, increase the tendency of getting cancer of the large intestines, and could also lead to anaemia.

To reduce the risk of IBD, he said, “You can reduce chances by living a healthy lifestyle.

“Two key things: ensure you have sufficient fruit and vegetables in the diet and reduce sugar intake, which has been attributed to it to an extent and also avoid processed food.

“For those who have a family tendency, they should go for regular screening to identify if they have it or if they have complications of it.

He added that “It is much more common among whites. It is something you should be aware of but not worried about.”

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