To many people across the world, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis bring everyday battles from a disease that has no cure. Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) play a major part in the day-to-day lives of so many. I know my world is turned upside down daily by Crohn’s disease.
To most people, IBD is an unheard of invisible illness. I had no idea what Crohn’s disease was when I first heard about it. Yes, there are many bathroom aspects, but it is much more than that, as it can affect you both physically and emotionally.
Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis affect the digestive system, leaving sufferers with severe pain, weight loss, bleeding, and diarrhea. Even with its early signs and symptoms, the disease affects a patient comprehensively. It causes many symptoms that are unseen by those who cannot relate, hence its invisible aspect.
Ulcerative colitis is similar, attacking the colon or large intestine, and affecting everything from the bones to the kidneys, and from the liver to the skin.
Both can affect the joints, the eyes, and the mouth. The entire body can be affected, top to bottom. This is not just a bathroom disease. Numerous medications are used to manage and suppress Crohn’s and colitis symptoms, but Crohn’s and colitis flares can be dangerous to well-being and disease management.
Flaring can lead to disease irritation and inflammation. Bowels can become obstructed, malnutrition can lead to weight loss, rectal bleeding and severe blood loss can occur, and other disease manifestations are possible.
Some IBD patients require major surgeries, some require hospitalization, some require feeding tubes and ostomy bags, and some don’t survive IBD complications. It is a sad fact, but IBD can be life-threatening at times, meaning a cure is needed sooner rather than later.
Although there is no cure for IBD, plenty of amazing charities, nonprofit organizations, and foundations exist that focus on disseminating information, promoting disease awareness, and raising funds toward finding a cure for Crohn’s and colitis.
Each year, Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Week is held from Dec. 1-7 to bring together Crohn’s and colitis patients and other members of the IBD community to share facts and research and promote education about IBD. We celebrate each other, our caregivers, and our journeys.
This week represents disease awareness and focuses on educating those around us about everything IBD-related. Following are some facts about Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis facts
- There is no cure!
- Medications are taken for life, even when a patient seems “healthy.”
- Many are diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 35. I was diagnosed at 26.
- The cause is unknown. IBD isn’t caused by stress, but it can be irritated by stress. There’s a difference.
- Symptoms can vary from patient to patient.
- There are no tests specifically for Crohn’s disease. A number of tests must be done that often lead to a long waiting period before diagnosis. It took two years of testing for my diagnosis.
- IBD is an autoimmune disease, leaving patients with compromised immune systems.
What have you done to spread awareness this Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Week? Share your thoughts in the comments section.
Note: IBD News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of IBD News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to IBD.