The Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Week takes place every year from December 1-7. In the U.S., the awareness week was officially endorsed through a resolution of the Senate on November 14, 2011. The objective of this week is to appreciate caregivers and family members who support and care for people living with ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease in the U.S. During this week, health care providers and biomedical scientists who work relentlessly to develop new treatments for these disorders are also commended.
About Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis
Both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are chronic inflammatory conditions affecting the gastrointestinal tract (GI). They are classified as inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). They both exhibit similar symptoms, but they affect different areas of the gut. Ulcerative colitis only affects the colon while Crohn’s disease mostly affects the ileum and the upper part of the colon. However, Crohn’s disease can affect any other part of the gut.
Who is affected by Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis?
As opposed to the common belief that Crohn’s and colitis affect only the adult population, these two illnesses affect children as well. According to the Crohn’s and Colitis Research Foundation of America, about 1.6 million people are living with IBD, and 140,000 of these patients are children below the age of 18. The youngest patients diagnosed with the conditions were only 18 months old. However, it is challenging to diagnose these diseases in children.
Diagnosis and treatment
Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are diagnosed by physicians. Upon determination, the doctor decides on the suitable treatment combination for each patient since there is no defined treatment for IBD. The medication aims at suppressing and controlling symptoms as well as decreasing the frequency of their flare-ups. Besides medication, doctors may advise the patient to alter their diet or recommend a surgical procedure to remove the affected part of the GI tract or repair it.
Common misconceptions about Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis
Inflammatory bowel diseases are often mistaken for psychosomatic illnesses. This belief is not true as there is no medical link between emotions and the cause of IBD. Emotional stress can, however, worsen the symptoms. Eating certain types of foods also does not cause IBD. Doctors recommend dietary modifications during flare-ups to aid in reducing symptoms and help the patient in replacing lost nutrients.
This week is the best time to give encouragement to a family member or friend living with IBD. Ask your doctor if you have questions or concerns about Crohn’s and Colitis.