Understanding Crohn's Disease And Ulcerative Colitis
North American Precis Syndicate
If you develop persistent digestive difficulties, see your doctor. If you're diagnosed with Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis, there are treatments that can help. (NAPS)
(NAPSI)—If you or someone you care about is among the 1.6 million
Americans with Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis, there are a few facts
you may find it helpful to know.
The conditions are collectively known as inflammatory bowel diseases, or
IBD. They affect the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, the area of the body where
digestion takes place. The diseases cause inflammation of the intestine and
can lead to ongoing symptoms and complications. Although there is no known
cause or cure for IBD, there are many effective treatments to help control
Anyone can be diagnosed with IBD, but adolescents and young adults between
the ages of 15 and 35 are the most susceptible. Ten percent of those
afflicted develop symptoms before age 18.
Approximately 20 percent of patients have another family member with IBD,
and families frequently share a similar pattern of disease.
IBD can vary from one person to the next, but often has a significant
effect on quality of life. People often experience ongoing symptoms, reduced
ability to work, social stigma and difficulty with physical activities.
Symptoms And Complications
Ulcerative colitis involves the inner lining of the colon, while Crohn's
disease involves all layers of the intestine and can occur in both the small
intestine and colon. Here are four things to consider:
1. Symptoms range from mild to severe and can include any or all of the
• persistent diarrhea
• abdominal pain or cramps
• rectal bleeding
• fever and weight loss
• joint, skin or eye irritations
• delayed growth in children.
2. Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are unpredictable. Some people
have no active symptoms for some time (also known as remission). Others
require frequent hospitalizations and surgery. Symptoms may vary in nature,
frequency and intensity.
3. Taking medications as prescribed by a doctor can help control symptoms,
inflammation and any complications that may arise, such as malnutrition or
4. Regular colonoscopies are recommended in IBD patients to monitor
inflammation and any growths that can potentially be removed, or changes
happening within the colon.
There are medications currently available to help control disease symptoms
and inflammation. The most commonly prescribed are aminosalicylates (5-ASA),
corticosteroids, immunomodulators, biologic therapies, and antibiotics.
Surgery is sometimes recommended when medications can no longer control
symptoms, when there are intestinal obstructions or when other complications
IBD does not only affect the body physically. There can also be effects on
mental health. Feelings of anxiety and depression can be very common in IBD,
as patients learn to cope with everyday living. It is important not to ignore
these invisible symptoms and to seek support or to talk to your doctor about
any emotional concerns.
There may be times when modifying a patient's diet can be helpful,
particularly when symptoms are active, but there's no evidence that certain
foods cause IBD. No single diet or eating plan works for everyone with IBD.
Diets are tailored to each patient.
What's Being Done
There is critical research in areas of genetics, microbiome and
environmental triggers that will help improve quality of life for patients,
advance toward precision medicine and, ultimately, lead to new treatment and
You can get information, guidance, support, and the latest clinical and
research news from the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation at www.crohnscolitisfoundation.org.
You can also join a nearby chapter, connect with others living with these
diseases, and get involved. Call the IBD Help Center at 888-MY-GUT-PAIN
(888-694-8872) or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
On the Net:North American Precis Syndicate, Inc.(NAPSI)