It’s time to get to grips with guts

Communications TeamNews

Stomach pain. Digestive difficulties. Toilet troubles. Whatever you want to call them, not many of us like to talk about them.

But when you consider that more than 5,500 people in Hull and the East Riding are living with a diagnosis of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and around 430 people in our region alone will be diagnosed with bowel cancer this year, it’s clear that we as a community need to get to grips with guts.

IBD is very different to irritable bowel syndrome, although it does share some of the same initial symptoms such as abdominal pain and diarrhoea. IBD is, in fact, an umbrella term for Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s. If left untreated, IBD can lead to the need for surgery or potentially life-threatening complications.

Consultant gastroenterologist and IBD specialist, Prof Shaji Sebastian

Professor Shaji Sebastian is a consultant gastroenterologist and lead clinician for the IBD Unit at Hull Royal Infirmary, and was recently elected to the governing board of the European Crohn`s and Colitis Organisation (ECCO), Europe’s largest forum for IBD specialists. He says:

“Getting a diagnosis for IBD is so important, as the sooner we do this, the sooner we can start to explore different treatments. IBD can have an impact on every aspect of a person’s life, including a person’s mental well-being such as feelings of stress or isolation, for example, and also affecting day-to-day activities that many of us take for granted, like eating a meal out or going away on holiday.

“Not everybody with stomach pain will have IBD, but the most important thing is to seek advice and not ignore symptoms like severe stomach pain, diarrhoea, fatigue and weight loss, especially if you’re experiencing some or all of these at the same time.”

And next week, some of the region’s leading health experts will be giving you the chance to do just that when they team up with the national charity, Guts UK, to host a special ‘Science of Digestion’ event. To be held at Hull’s Guildhall on the evening of Tuesday 14 May, the event will enable the public, patients and professionals to hear from experts in gastric, colorectal and liver health. Information on digestive diseases, the importance of early diagnosis, and advice on preventative steps we can all take to reduce the risk of digestive problems will also be freely available.

“There will literally be no question too awkward or that we haven’t heard before,” says Julie Thompson, Information Manager for Guts UK.

“When it comes to gut health, as a nation we can’t afford to be embarrassed. Some 10,000 people are dying in the UK from liver disease each year, bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer and half a million people are already living with IBD. These are not small numbers, so the likelihood is that, even if you’re not affected personally, you’ll know someone who is.

“Not only will we be sharing information with patients and professionals at our Science of Digestion event, we’ll also be providing general advice to family, friends and those who care for someone with digestive issues so they know how best to support and look out for them.”

The Science of Digestion event will take place from 5:30 – 7:30pm on Tuesday 14 May at the Guildhall, Alfred Gelder Street, Hull (doors open 5pm). Guests will hear from some of the country’s leading experts in gut health, colorectal cancer and digestive diseases and be able to put any questions forward. There will also be the opportunity to get up close with ‘Colin the Colon’, a giant inflatable walk-through experience offering you the chance to see what a healthy colon does (and doesn’t) look like.

Families are welcome and refreshments will be available. Places are free of charge but should be booked in advance via Eventbrite, where you can also find full details of the speakers and topics: