According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a division of the US Department of Health and Human Services that accumulates and publishes the statistics for Crohns disease and other health problems, one in 500 people suffer from Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), the group of diseases that includes Crohns syndrome and ulcerative colitis. The National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) reports similar numbers. Approximately 544,000 people suffer from IBD in the United States. There are typically three or four new cases per 100,000 people reported annually.

Crohns syndrome and ulcerative colitis are not considered life threatening diseases (less than 1000 deaths are attributed to IBD annually), but they do affect quality of life. According to a study published in August 2006, newly diagnosed pediatric patients did report an improvement in overall quality of life within the first year of diagnosis. The average age of the patients studied was between 11 and 13 years. 23% suffered from ulcerative colitis. The statistics for Crohns disease was 77% of those included in the study. Quality of life is of major concern for anyone who suffers from IBD, but the negative impact on children and teenagers can be great. There was no reported difference in quality of life between those who suffer from ulcerative colitis and those who suffer from Crohns syndrome.

While ulcerative colitis and Crohns syndrome rarely result in death, they do lead to approximately one hundred thousand hospitalizations per year in the United States. Sixty four thousand are the statistics for Crohns disease or 64% of the hospitalizations attributed to IBD. Approximately 700,000 doctor's office visits are attributed to IBD annually.

Doctor's visits and hospital stays cost Americans who suffer from digestive diseases an estimated $87 billion in 1992. Another $20 billion was spent on indirect medical costs, which includes disability and mortality. The statistics for Crohns disease disabilities is estimated at 119,000 Americans. Thus, of the 544,000 who suffer from Crohns syndrome 22% are unable to work.

In Europe, concerns about appropriate treatment for Crohns syndrome led to a study in which 10 gastroenterologists, 3 surgeons and 2 general practitioners from 12 different countries evaluated their colleagues' treatment of Crohns syndrome patients. The results were not good. The panel found that treatment was inappropriate 52% of the time. After evaluating the statistics for Crohns disease treatment, this expert panel came up with a set of guidelines for practitioners to use to help them treat patients appropriately.

The Department of Gastroenterology in London reported in February 2006 that the use of complementary and alternative medicine for the treatment of Crohns syndrome and ulcerative colitis, particularly herbal therapies, is widespread and increasing. According to the study, there is evidence that aloe may be effective for reducing inflammation and pain associated with IBD. Studies of patients treated with acupuncture were promising. Their concern is that certain herbal preparations may interact with prescription medications and if not used under doctor's supervision may not be safe. There is also some concern over the quality of products patients receive. The statistics for Crohns disease treatment with herbal or alternative therapies relating to effectiveness or safety are unavailable, as no surveys or studies have been done at this time, but at least some doctors believe they are needed. To learn more about natural, botanical and herbal remedies for Crohns disease and other digestive problems, visit www.digestive-disorders-guide.com.

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