IBD And The Flu


About IBD

Inflammatory bowel disease refers to a group of diseases that affect the small intestine and/or the colon. The diseases differ somewhat in their severity and manifestation, but they are all autoimmune diseases or diseases in which the body attacks its own tissue as foreign. Some forms include:

  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Crohn's disease
  • Diversion colitis
  • Lymphocytic colitis

The bowels are responsible for processing and absorbing nutrients, as well as attacking dangerous pathogens. With such an important function, it's no surprise that inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) can have wide-ranging effects on overall health. A recent study shows that IBD patients are much more likely to get the flu than people without IBD, and doctors are now recommending that IBD patients receive annual vaccinations. This is especially important since Louisiana is experiencing some of the highest nation-wide rates of influenza.

About the Flu

Influenza is one of the most common infectious diseases in the world, affecting millions of people each year. The flu is a virus that affects the respiratory tract and can vary considerably in its severity. Although most young, healthy individuals are able to fight it off with just a few days of discomfort, the flu is actually a common cause of death. Death can occur after complications of influenza, like pneumonia, sinus infections, or dehydration, or the worsening of pre-existing conditions like congestive heart failure and asthma. Symptoms of the flu include:

  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle aches
  • Sore throat
  • Coughing
  • Runny or stuffy nose

The Link

As mentioned above, a recent study has revealed that IBD patients - even young patients - have a significantly higher risk of becoming infected with the flu. The study did not determine conclusively whether or not IBD patients had a higher chance of developing serious complications of influenza, but future studies may reveal this information.

Flu Vaccination

Every year, epidemiologists develop a flu vaccine designed to vaccinate against the year's most prevalent forms of the flu. Although many people can benefit from flu vaccination, it's especially beneficial for certain groups. People with young children, people who work in health care or school settings, elderly people, and people with IBD should all be sure to get an annual flu vaccine. Since there are many strains of the flu, vaccination won't eliminate your chances of getting it; however, it will significantly reduce your risk. You can get your flu vaccine at your doctor's office, or at your local pharmacy. To schedule your appointment today, please find the nearest GI Alliance location to you.