10 Potential Risk Factors for Inflammatory Bowel Disease

1. Geography

People who live in developed western countries are more likely to have inflammatory bowel disease. This could be down to lifestyle choices such as smoking, drinking, a diet of processed foods, or the effects of pollution.

However, less-developed countries, particularly in Asia, are experiencing a rise in the number of cases of IBD. This could also be due to the increase of processed foods in worldwide diets or an increase in environmental pollution.

2. Age

Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are more likely to be diagnosed in teenagers and young adults, but older adults can develop it later in life. Younger patients tend to have a more aggressive form of the condition.

Younger patients are thought to have the disease due to genetic factors whereas older people are more likely to be affected by environmental factors.

3. Smoking

Smoking affects IBDs in different ways. People who smoke are more at risk of developing Crohn’s disease and smoking exacerbates the symptoms, whereas ex-smokers are more susceptible to ulcerative colitis.

Watch as Rebecca describes what it’s like to live with an ostomy bag.4. Appendicitis

Young people who have had their appendix removed due to appendicitis are at a lower risk of developing ulcerative colitis. The reason behind this is not fully understood but it’s thought it could be due to a change in the way the immune system functions. However, having an appendectomy after being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis doesn’t cure the disease.

5. Genetics

A family history of either Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis will increase your risk of inflammatory bowel disease. Researchers have found that if a twin has Crohn’s disease, there is a 50 percent chance the other twin will also develop the condition. However, for ulcerative colitis, this figure drops to a 6 percent chance.

6. Parasites

There’s a theory that because humans are now less likely to have internal parasites (worms), they are more likely to have IBD. Some experts believe that worms can lower the risk of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, but this is yet to be proven.

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