Dr. Tauseef Ali was concerned his patients couldn't find accurate information about their disease.
So, he wrote a book for them on inflammatory bowel diseases.
“This is a disease where there is not a good reference book for patients,” Ali said. “Unlike diabetes, heart disease and hypertension, where you can find tons of information, this was a subject where you won't find a good, reliable book.”
Ali, a gastroenterologist at OU Physicians Crohn's and Colitis Clinic, is the author of the upcoming book “Crohn's & Colitis for Dummies,” part of the popular “For Dummies” series that has published numerous how-to guides since 1991.
Ali's book is available for pre-order and will go on sale in June. He answered questions about inflammatory bowel diseases and his upcoming book.
Q: What diseases are included in inflammatory bowel diseases, or IBD?
A: Inflammatory bowel diseases affect about 1.4 million Americans, according to the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America.
Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are the two main forms of chronic inflammatory disease of the gastrointestinal tract, called inflammatory bowel disease, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse.
Crohn's disease causes inflammation of the digestive system, often affecting the lower part of the small intestine, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Ulcerative colitis is a disease that causes ulcers in the lining of the rectum and colon.
Some people might have heard of irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, which is a different diagnosis than inflammatory bowel disease, Ali said. IBS is not a disease but rather a group of symptoms that occur together.
Ali said with both IBS and IBD, you suffer from diarrhea and abdominal pain. But the difference is with IBD, you battle chronic inflammation of your intestines.
“It's a chronic inflammation where your intestines from inside get swollen, get ulcerated, and it bleeds, and that can cause pain and diarrhea,” he said.
Q: What motivated you to write about this topic?
A: Ali wrote the book as a guide not only for patients, but for family members and friends of people who suffer from inflammatory bowel disease.
The book walks patients through different aspects of the disease. Each chapter addresses issues that IBD sufferers experience on a daily basis, such as what to eat and what to wear.
It also includes what happens when a female IBD patient is pregnant or when a child is diagnosed. The book offers advice for patients regarding their financial life, social life and sex life as well, he said.
“Sometimes they just don't want to ask these questions, or they don't have time to ask these questions,” Ali said. “Keeping that in mind, I wrote this book. I believe this could be a very excellent resource for patients, their family members and their friends.”
Ali said there are books about inflammatory bowel diseases, but many are outdated. As the number of people being diagnosed continues to grow, accurate and up-to-date information is growing even more necessary, Ali said.
Q: What treatment is available for IBD patients?
A: Ali said there are various treatments for patients with IBD, Crohn's or colitis, and lots of misinformation over what works best.
Many patients take anti-inflammatory drugs, he said. Some also take drugs that suppress the immune system, which can help prevent inflammation or keep it from progressing.
“You really need a physician who can understand different aspects of your disease,” he said. “The goal of the therapy is to not only control your symptoms but also to control your inflammation.”
Ali said it's important to find a doctor who's willing to help you find therapy that's cost-effective and offers minimal side effects.
A patient with Crohn's disease spends an average of $8,265 per year managing their illness, and a patient with ulcerative colitis spends $5,066, according to the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America.
The foundation has resources available, including information on doctors who have experience with inflammatory bowel diseases.