I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease at the age of 13. Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are the two main forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) which cause inflammation of the lining of the digestive system in the form of ulcers. While Crohn's disease can affect anywhere from the mouth to the back passage, ulcerative colitis is usually confined to the large intestine.
I will be exploring a few truths surrounding IBD, many which have arisen from my experiences. Each case is different so the way the condition manifests itself will be unique to each person. What are some of your truths? Here are mine.
There is currently no cure for IBD
Crohn's disease and ulcerative Colitis are incurable conditions. People with IBD go through a series of flare-ups when symptoms are active, and remission periods, when regular symptoms don't occur.
These disabilities can often be managed by medication or diets including those in liquid form. Many people will also have to undergo surgery, either in the form of a bowel resection, a colostomy or an ileostomy.
There is no known cause of IBD
There is no known cause for Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis. Research suggests that genetics, the immune system and environmental factors might have some impact in determining these autoimmune diseases. This is not fully proven yet.
The symptoms of IBD are varied
Symptoms are often individualistic to each person with either Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis. Nevertheless, the most common ones include diarrhoea, abdominal pain, fatigue, blood and mucus in the faeces, unintended weight loss and stunted growth.
IBD can lead to further complications including experiences related to anxiety and depression. This makes the two conditions more than 'poo diseases', although I have learnt that we can spend a long time on the toilet.
It can take a while to diagnose IBD
Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are often diagnosed after a series of medical examinations including colonoscopies. This process can often take a long while to complete.
I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease when I was 13, after four years of fighting and a doctor referral. My original doctor branded my symptoms as 'imaginary' and a product of an over-anxious mother. You can read my full story on at my blog here.
We experience good days and bad days
People with IBD go through a series of flare-ups and remissions. On some days we may feel good within ourselves, whilst other times we may be so overwhelmed with fatigue all we want to do is to stay in bed.
Support goes a long way
Stephen Covey is quoted saying: 'Most people do not listen with the intent to understand. They listen with the intent to reply.' I have met many wonderful people who have listened to my Crohn's disease story with the intent to understand. I would like to thank them, along with my family, friends and the community for being there for me; whether this was a hug during a hospital stay or a kind comment along the way.
Crohn's and Colitis UK is a brilliant organisation who helps people with IBD and their loved ones. They have certainly supported me.
We are true fighters
While Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are deliberating conditions, people who experience these disabilities are true fighters. They are determined, empathetic and strong individuals. I am very pleased to be part of such an inspirational IBD community.
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