Researchers have for the first time discovered that a specific type of irritable bowel syndrome is associated with exhaustion of the immune system in patients.
The discovery has been made by a team led by Dr Patrick Hughes, Senior Lecturer with the Adelaide Medical School, University of Adelaide, and a member of the Nutrition & Metabolism theme, South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI).
Now published in the international journal Gut, the research focused on a small sample of patients with various types of irritable bowel disease, and, for the first time, followed them for a year comparing blood samples when patients experienced symptoms to when they were symptom free.
All patients with diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome (IBS-D) were found to have the same kind of exhaustion in their T-cells.
“For the first time, we’ve discovered that in patients with irritable bowel syndrome associated with diarrhea, their T-cells seem to be ‘out of puff’ or run down,” Dr Hughes says.
“These normally active immune cells are less responsive to stimulation, secreting fewer mediators and dividing less. This type of response is often observed in chronic infections.
“This is an important discovery, particularly as it helps to further distinguish between the different types of irritable bowel syndrome. This may eventually help us to better understand how to diagnose and treat the disease,” he says.
Dr Hughes says there is much research into IBS to show its links with stress, and it is known that cortisol and stress hormones can inhibit the immune system. But until now, such T-cell exhaustion had not been described in IBS-D patients.
“Irritable bowel syndrome takes a real toll on patients,” Dr Hughes says. “It can affect people in the prime of their lives, it’s a chronic disease that can last a long time, and the treatments currently available are poor.
“Anything we can do to better understand the disease and to help reduce its debilitating effects on patients will be welcome,” he says.
Having been under virtual house arrest for some time, it’s easy to get carried away with the excitement of a short break, post Covid-19. You’re taking in new sights, sounds, smells and tastes. It’s an adventure for the soul. But rich foods and drinks, lack of exercise and the stress of travel, particularly with young children, can take a toll on your health. To avoid paying for it later on, take a few steps to remain healthy.
REMEMBER TO GET ENOUGH SLEEP
A holiday after such a stressful period for everyone might be much welcomed, but don’t neglect your sleep patterns. Aim for six to nine hours a night and take a short nap in the afternoon if you need it.
WASH YOUR HANDS OFTEN
Stop germs in their tracks. Remember: wet, lather, scrub, rinse, and dry. This isn’t just good advice in a pandemic, it’s important every single day of your life. Practice it frequently throughout the day to prevent spread of diarrhea and respiratory disease, too. PACK SMART While it’s great to finally be free to enjoy a break, beware of the holiday cheer. Many hotels offer complimentary drinks, snacks or cakes. The result can be hard on your system. Pack Udo’s Choice Ultimate Digestive Enzyme Blend, to aid your digestion. A unique blend of seven plant-based digestive enzymes assist in the breakdown of proteins, fats, carbohydrates and fibre. Udo’s Choice Super 8 Microbiotic is a hi-count microbiotic blend that contains eight strains of lacto and bifido bacteria. Each daily capsule contains 42 billion ‘friendly’ bacteria. Both products can be found in your local health food store or pharmacy.
ALWAYS KEEP HYDRATED
Drink lots of water. Spending hours travelling can dehydrate you. Carry a large bottle of water to have throughout your journey, and pack Manuka Lozenges with vitamin C for an added immune boost and try to choose caffeine free drinks throughout the day.
If you’re staying by the sea, eat lots of fresh grilled fish. Oily fish –including sardines, fresh tuna, salmon and mackerel – is particularly good as it’s rich in Omega 3, which keeps your skin hydrated and encourages healthy digestion as well as weight loss. Try to eat a variety of different coloured fruits and vegetables – oranges, red peppers, green courgettes, yellow sweet corn – to get a wide range of antioxidants.
PROTECT FROM THE SUN
Lying in the sunshine feels great but you only need 10 minutes of unprotected sun to get your daily dose of vitamin D. After that you should use sunblock. As we get older, the collagen in our skin breaks down more rapidly, leading to lines, wrinkles and discolouring. To prevent the breaking down of collagen, eat lots of purple fruits, such as fresh blackberries, blueberries and black grapes.
Experts support COVID vaccines for Inflammatory Bowel Disease patients
British Society of Gastroenterology Inflammatory Bowel Disease Section and IBD Clinical Research Group release statement supporting COVID-19 vaccines.
You will be able to have the coronavirus vaccine if you are immunosuppressed; you need the coronavirus vaccine if you are immunosuppressed; and you will be prioritised because you are immunosuppressed.Dr Nick PowellClinical Reader and Consultant in Gastroenterology
The statement, co-written by the Department of Metabolism, Digestion and Reproduction’s Dr Nick Powell, Dr James Alexander and external colleagues, strongly supports SARS-CoV2 vaccinations for patients with IBD, while underscoring the risks of taking the vaccination in IBD patients are anticipated to be very low.
Patients with IBD may have increased susceptibility to infectious diseases. The main concerns around IBD patients taking the vaccine are related to the theoretical risk of sub-optimal vaccine responses rather than vaccine side effects. Even if vaccine effectiveness was reduced it would still likely offer some protection from the virus. The one thing for certain is that if you don’t have the vaccine you will remain at high risk of getting the virus
Dr Powell has spoken about potential side effects, stating: “The risks of vaccination are very low, and are mostly confined to short-lived, mild side effects, like headache or fatigue. On the other hand, the risks of COVID-19 infection are sadly all too familiar. More than 1 in 1000 people in the UK have already lost their lives to this deadly virus. Vaccination is the best way of protecting IBD patients from COVID-19 and will be the most important route for us to get back on track with our lives”.
The team has been working on a number of projects and events around public and patient engagement with the vaccines. At the end of last year, Dr Powell was one of a number of experts on a panel discussing covid vaccines for people with Crohn’s or Colitis. The panel answered patient questions and alleviated potential fears they may have about being vaccinated. Catch up on the event here.
With the Pfizer/BioNTech and the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines already receiving MHRA approval, and the Moderna vaccine approval expected shortly, it is recommended that IBD patients accept whichever approved SARS-CoV2 vaccination is offered to them.
Speaking about the vaccines, Dr Powell said: “Vaccination against SARS-CoV2 holds the key to beating this deadly disease. It is especially important in vulnerable patient groups. We have engaged extensively with our patients and have found that there are significant concerns and worries about the vaccines. The IBD experts of the British Society of Gastroenterology unanimously agree that vaccination is by far the best option for IBD patients, and indeed other patient groups needing to take immunosuppressive drugs.”
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IF IN EYES: Rinse cautiously with water for several minutes. Remove contact lenses, if present and easy to do. Continue rinsing. If eye irritation persists, seek medical advice/attention. If medical advice is needed, ensure product container or label is at hand.
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