The Angry Gut: Coping with Colitis and Crohn's Disease

The Angry Gut: Coping with Colitis and Crohn's Disease

The Angry Gut: Coping with Colitis and Crohn's Disease

The Angry Gut: Coping with Colitis and Crohn's Disease

Synopsis

The New England Journal of Medicine lauds Dr. W. Grant Thompson as "a gifted teacher and clinician with a talent for clear exposition." In the spirit of the highly acclaimed Gut Reactions, Dr. Thompson shares his expertise on how to cope with two widespread and debilitating diseases - colitis and Crohn's disease. These two chronic, nonfatal yet devastating ailments typically strike the young and may develop into a lifetime burden. Most patients are traumatized by their diagnosis and become frustrated and depressed by the recurring nature of these illnesses. As a result, caring and open communication between patient and doctor is essential. Perhaps more so than a physician in any other specialty, a gastroenterologist must be in tune with the mind and body of his patient. Dr. Thompson, an international expert and chief of a hospital gastroenterology unit, epitomizes this valuable quality and bestows the fruit of his knowledge and compassion on the reader. In addition to highlighting the significant similarities and differences of these two syndromes and stressing the importance of a correct diagnosis, Dr. Thompson broaches more sensitive topics that seem to be ignored by the medical profession. He explores the unique psychosocial and sexual concerns, as well as the effects of pregnancy on those women who suffer from these conditions. His gift for writing and warm, caring style make the daily struggles of these illnesses seem easier to bear. One of the worst consequences of these stubborn ailments is the accompanying reduction in the quality of life. Dr. Thompson addresses common worries about body image due to illness or surgery, loss of sexual drive or ability to perform, pain and suffering, possible effects of medication, and concern over the ominous relationship between ulcerative colitis and cancer. In accessible and supportive prose, Dr. Thompson examines the pros and cons of all possible treatments including drug therapy, nutrition, and surgery. He outlines

Excerpt

An inflamed gut is an angry gut. Inflammation is a means by which the body defends itself against an infection or other noxious agent. In inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), the affected gut becomes hot, angry red, swollen, and painful. Unlike the acute, short-lived inflammation seen with infections such as salmonella, that of IBD is chronic and of unknown cause. Thus, the angry gut vents its wrath against an unknown assailant through abdominal pain, diarrhea, and the impedimenta of chronic illness. Inflammatory bowel disease is a generic term used to embrace two chronic manifestations of the angry gut -- ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease.

Inflammatory bowel disease characteristically afflicts the young, and its consequences may be a lifetime burden. It is not a killer, but it may temporarily disable; at best, it is a major inconvenience. Perhaps because it is seldom fatal, or because its symptoms are not suitable topics for polite conversation, IBD is not so well known as many less common diseases. Yet, because of the disability and suffering it causes, IBD deserves much more public attention. The inflammatory bowel diseases, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, are complicated processes of unknown cause, unpredictable course, and trial-and-error treatment. To those who must deal with them -- as patients, as spouses, as parents, or as professionals -- these diseases seem formidable, even foreboding. Clearly explaining the angry gut to the newly afflicted is difficult, and fraught with caveats, because it may manifest in such a variety of ways. Yet . . .

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