I was diagnosed with IBD little over 6 months ago so in no way do I claim to know everything there is to know about it. However, I’ve since discovered that people don’t often know what IBD is and confuse it with other diseases’ myself included. So I thought it might be nice to have something for people to read that can educate people on what IBD is and how it can affect different people that wasn’t filled with too many long words.
I think one of the most common misconceptions surrounding IBD is that it is a form of IBS which is not true. Irritable Bowel Syndrome is something that can be ‘fixed’ by getting rid of the food or substance that you digestive system does not agree with. While some of the symptoms are very similar, for example having an upset tummy or stomach pains, it is by no means the same thing. Irritable Bowel Disease is classed as a chronic illness, this is just a fancy way of saying that there is no cure and you’ll almost definitely have to live with it for the rest of your life. As I’ve said, some of the symptoms can be very similar however IBD can, in very extreme cases, be life threatening.
There are two types of IBD – Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease. They both cause inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract but what differs between the two is the severity and just how much of your body it affects. Ulcerative Colitis only affects the colon (also known as the large intestine), whereas Crohn’s can affect the whole of your digestive system from your mouth to the anus. This means that of the two, Crohn’s is typically seen as the most severe.
There are a few symptoms that you can look out for, including stomach pain, recurring or bloody diarrhoea, weight loss, and extreme tiredness. However not everyone will experience these symptoms and some people even experience things like vomiting, anaemia or a fever. It is also hard to catch because the symptoms can come and go, you may experience a flare-up where the symptoms are extremely bad or you may go through a long period where you may have little or no symptoms at all, where you would be classed as being in remission.
Having a chronic illness affects everybody differently. People like to assume that because you take your medication or because they have a friend who has the same thing and is fine that you are fine. What I like to tell people is that you will never find two people who suffer in exactly the same way. For example, someone could be the exact copy of me on paper, take their meds everyday and carry on their life with no problems. However, even though I take my meds every day, I struggle with my concentration, engaging with people and extreme fatigue. Just because something worked for someone you know, does not mean by any means that it is going to definitely work for you. People need to realise that just because you look okay, don’t always mean you are. There are a lot of things that aren’t ‘fixed’ by simply taking your meds. Some meds can even present new side effects or make existing ones worse.
IBD is nothing to joke about because it can be potentially life threatening. However, there is amazing support out there and the best way I’ve found to deal with it, is by being as open and honest with people. If you want more information, the best place to start is on the Crohn’s and Colitis website. If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments below and I’ll try to answer them. I’ll be doing a few more posts about IBD in the future, especially considering that it is Crohn’s and Colitis awareness week during the first week in December.
Featured Image – skydive.buzz