5 simple things I wish people knew about Inflammatory Bowel Disease
There are two main forms of IBD: Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. IBD is a chronic condition that causes damage to the GI tract and can effect may other areas of your body. Personally, I have had Crohn's about 13 years. I doubt many people will see this list but it felt good writing it. There are just a few things I wish people knew.
- 1.There is no cure.While there is exciting research currently taking place (look up IBD vaccination if your curious) there is no cure for IBD.
- 2.It is a systemic disease.Despite what IBD drug advertisements tell is, IBD is much more than "abdominal discomfort" or "finding yourself looking for a bathroom". IBD can effect your skin, eyes, joints, and it comes with a huge side of fatigue. Also that abdominal discomfort is actually from inflammation, fistulas, ulcers, abbesses, or obstruction.
- 3.It cannot be caused or "fixed" with diet.I'm not going to argue that symptoms of IBD in some individuals can be managed with diet, but it is different to each individual. Also notice how I said symptoms and not the disease itself. Most of us are on pretty powerful medications that keep us as healthy as possible. If you give us diet advice we know your heart is in the right place, but a small part of us wants to kick you in the shin. If IBD could be cured with food wouldn't we already know? We don't choose to be sick!
- 4.Fatigue can be the most difficult symptom to cope with.Before you say "but we're tired too", think about something for me. One symptom of IBD is malabsorption or essential vitamins and nutrients. Or due to "abdominal discomfort" we are forced to limit our food intake. Also our bodies, especially during flare-ups, are constantly working in overdrive to fight the disease. Now factor in pain that can keep us awake at night and the multiple trips to the bathroom. Oh yeah and did I mention how prednisone makes us crazy? So yeah...we're not "just tired".
- 5.IBS is NOT the same as IBD.IBS stands for irritable bowel syndrome. IBD stands for inflammatory bowel disease. While the two share similar symptoms, IBS is a syndrome. No actual damage is being done to the GI tract and the majority of its symptoms can be controlled through diet. IBD requires strong medications and includes higher risks for obstruction, fistulas, and emergency surgery.