It’s Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Week, So Let’s Talk About IBD

It’s Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Week, So Let’s Talk About IBD
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Crohn's and Colitis Awareness Week - It Could Be Worse

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. 

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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.

Crohn’s disease warrior, Navy veteran, communication and journalism graduate, cosmetologist and phlebotomist. I am a fur mom of one dog, my child, Bilbo Baggins. I enjoy sharing my journey with other invisible illness warriors through IBD News and also my personal blog. I live each day trying to find the positive because, for me, it could be worse. I hope you’ll allow me to share my experiences and I happily accept any and all feedback, questions, and information. Thank you for reading my patient perspective!
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Crohn’s disease warrior, Navy veteran, communication and journalism graduate, cosmetologist and phlebotomist. I am a fur mom of one dog, my child, Bilbo Baggins. I enjoy sharing my journey with other invisible illness warriors through IBD News and also my personal blog. I live each day trying to find the positive because, for me, it could be worse. I hope you’ll allow me to share my experiences and I happily accept any and all feedback, questions, and information. Thank you for reading my patient perspective!

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One comment

  1. Rose says:

    Hello!

    PLEASE HELP ME!!!!!!!
    I am 4+ years into waiting for my diagnosis. Mainly because I just got tired. It all started with chronic abscesses, recurring every month on average. For the first 15ish, I had them packed and drained. With me being in college at the time, I found it very difficult to keep going through this process without getting to the root of the problem. I started seeing other doctors and received all types of possible diagnoses from: infectious diseases, hydradenitis, chronic acne of the buttocks, and so on. As for my regular doctor that repeatedly packed and drained my abscesses and prescribed antibiotics… well he ran out of options as well, so he prescribed me a medication that is used to treat herpes. My mom, being the doctor she is, had a fit. She asked for the medical necessity of this medication. The doctor said that he had exhausted all other treatments and this was next in line.

    Needless to say, I never saw him again. AND THEN, the IBD symptoms set in. I realized I had a real problem when I drank a beer one night, and the next morning I woke up to severe abdominal cramping, diarrhea (with blood, fat and mucus scattered in the toilet bowl – sorry for the details), and it did not relent. My mom knew at that time that I had Crohns. She took me to a gastroenterologist, and I got my first colonoscopy… and nothing. No inflammation, no tearing, no mucus…. nothing. Of course, I didnt have any symptoms at the time of the colonoscopy. I was told to return for further testing. I never did.

    Fast forward to the second colonoscopy a year later (2016), and you guessed it… same thing. By then, I was fed up and decided to live life carefree as a normal 23 year old. A couple flare-ups wouldnt hurt right? WRONG!

    I am currently writing you out of desperation because I neglected my health. Ive never been big on medication, partly because everything I was given had adverse side effects. I have also been eating whatever, whenever. Moreover, I have had so many abscesses left untreated that I think they have all interconnected immediately beneath my skin. I get them almost every week now. I am currently undergoing a very serious flare-up, all the gross stuff I mentioned earlier.. MULTIPLIED BY TEN. Lately, I’m so afraid of this “stuff” that I hardly eat. As far as treatment… I don’t know where to start – obviously with getting a diagnosis, but I can’t sit through another pointless colonoscopy. The only thing that seems to help is smoking marijuana frequently, but if I skip a smoke session, may God help me. Also, it is illegal in GA.

    So my question for you is, what’s next in the process of receiving a diagnosis? This is very urgent so I do not want to go through the numerous rounds of “ruling everything else out”. I know that there is no definitive test for CD, but there has to be something close. I recently came across your blog and you were very informative and held nothing back, so I thought I would ask.

    Also, do you notice a time of day that your symptoms worsen? Mine are always terrible in the morning and I have never understood why.

    Thanks so much for your time. Even if I dont receive a response, your stories have helped me realize that it is time to take control of my life and my health.

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