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It Takes Guts: Crohn’s & Colitis Awareness Week

Posted on December 2nd, 2019

In the UK alone, there are over 300,000 people who have been diagnosed with a form of inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Diverticulitis etc.  Yet the real number of those living with these illnesses could be almost double that.

 

Often misdiagnosed as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), IBD (inflammatory bowel diseases) are lifelong conditions and can affect anyone with often debilitating symptoms such as:

· generally feeling unwell

· joint pain

· fatigue / tiredness

· loss of appetite

· anaemia

· cramping or abdominal discomfort

· diarrhoea with blood, mucus or pus or constipation

 

Symptoms can change over time and many people alternate between times where there are few or no symptoms (remission) and when they are more active (relapses or ‘flare-ups’). Most forms of IBD can often be diagnosed via a sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy which essentially is a camera that goes up the bottom to look at your colon & rectum.

Although there is no cure, there are a wide range of treatment options when it comes to IBD with some being oral medication and steroids, biological medicines which are given via infusion or in some cases, surgical procedures such as an ileostomy to form a stoma.

Given that it involves a lot of talk about toilet habits and poo, there can often be a lot of embarrassment surrounding talking about IBD and the effect each of these illnesses have on people’s lives. Many people with IBD can develop a mental health condition as a result and feel very isolated and distressed. For these reasons, it is crucial that we raise awareness to stop the stigma surrounding illnesses like Crohn’s and colitis and to help with life-changing research and care for those who have been affected.

 

Ways to support those with IBD:

· Crohn’s & Colitis UK have released an app called In My Shoes, where you can live the life of someone with IBD for one day, ‘experiencing’ their ongoing symptoms and seeing how much it impacts their day to day life. It can be downloaded on Google Play or the Apple Store.

· If you know someone who has been diagnosed with a form of IBD, let them know you support them. Whether it be checking in on them from time to time / during a flare-up to accommodating for them if you go out together. A little help goes a long way.

· Often people with IBD will need to use disabled facilities for a number of reasons. Often they will have a sudden urge to go to the bathroom which prevents them from waiting in a queue or they made need additional space to empty or change a stoma bag etc. Sadly however, there have been many instances of people being denied  or ‘called out’ for needing this access (read just one example here). Help end the stigma for those who need to cut toilet queues or use disabled facilities because not all disabilities are visible.

· Consider donating to help fund research and care to those with IBD. Crohn’s and Colitis UK are a charity who provide support to people and also host amazing fundraising events such as Walk It and Purple Day to continue raising awareness. You can see exactly what the charity spends their donations on here.

 

If you are concerned about any symptoms described above, be sure to discuss these with your GP. If you need any further information, please click here or speak to our IBD champion, Nicole Wheatley. You can check out her experience with ulcerative colitis below:

 

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