If you have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), you probably look healthy on the outside — which means family and friends might have trouble understanding the real impact IBD has on your life. On top of living with the disease’s symptoms, like fatigue and severe abdominal pain, many people with IBD struggle with anxiety and depression as they carry an invisible burden.
Approximately 1.6 million Americans have IBD. Despite some new and promising treatments, many people continue to suffer through their painful symptoms. It’s time to take charge of your health again: A doctor appointment is not only safe, it can bring some much-needed guidance and hope for healing.
Here’s what you need to know about IBD diagnosis and treatment options.
Inflammatory bowel diseases include Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. These both involve long-term inflammation but affect different parts of digestion.
Crohn’s disease usually affects the small intestine, the part just after the stomach. Ulcerative colitis happens closer to the end of the digestive tract, in the large intestine, or colon.
Both can happen at any age and affect both genders equally. However, they tend to first develop in young adults. Doctors don’t know for sure what causes IBD but believe the immune system may be mistakenly attacking the digestive tract.
Symptoms shared by both ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease include:
Abdominal pain and cramping
Blood in your stool
Fever and fatigue
Unintended weight loss
Because these symptoms are behind many conditions and diseases, getting a diagnosis can be a major challenge. That means people with IBD often suffer for years before getting an explanation for what may be debilitating symptoms.
Gaining Control Over Your IBD Symptoms
Many people believe that a person’s emotions or eating choices are behind IBD. But while it’s true that our digestive tract can be sensitive to our emotions, there’s no evidence that IBD is caused by stress or food alone. Accepting that you’re not to blame for IBD, like anyone with a chronic disease, is an important first step.
And, you still have the power to get your symptoms under control. One strategy for people with IBD is to form a trusting, life-long relationship with a doctor. Together, you can explore treatments for the physical and emotional sides of IBD until you find an approach that works for you.
Your digestive health is important, especially in times like these when our daily routines and peace of mind are disrupted. Our offices and providers are putting enhanced safety measures in place to protect you, including:
Conducting temperature checks at all entry points to our facilities
Enforcing a new visitor policy
Redesigned waiting rooms and common areas to allow social distancing
Requiring face masks for all patients, visitors and staff
Separating symptomatic and COVID-19 positive patients from healthy ones
It’s our sincere hope that you’ll feel comfortable enough to see your doctor for care. We’re here to set you on a path toward healing so you can get back to living your best life.
Learn more about our IBD care services here.