November was officially Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Month, but December 1-7 is Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Week this year, according to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. According to the Foundation, over 3 million Americans and about 200,000 Canadians live with some form of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). This year, the foundation is using the hashtag #IBDvisible to help raise awareness about these critical and often misunderstood health issues. 

Crohn’s disease is one form of IBS. It describes an inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, which usually manifests in flares and periods of remission. Watch out for these symptoms if you are concerned that you might have Crohn’s disease:

  • Persistent diarrhea
  • Constipation or bowel obstruction
  • Abdominal cramps and pain

There are several options available to treat Crohn’s disease. Your doctor may prescribe medication to reduce inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract as well as a change in diet.

According to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation website, about 70% of people diagnosed with Crohn’s will need surgery down the line, so that is something to be aware of. 

Ulcerative colitis occurs when the lining of the colon becomes inflamed and develops small ulcers and sores. Symptoms vary, and most patients only experience mild symptoms of this condition. Some common symptoms of ulcerative colitis are:

  • Bloody stool
  • Loose and urgent bowel movements
  • Persistent diarrhea

These symptoms are very similar to the symptoms of Crohn’s disease, so consult with your doctor if you’re experiencing any of them. It is essential to let your doctor know about any discomfort you are experiencing so they can diagnose you and direct you toward a treatment plan. 

If you have been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, there are several paths you can pursue regarding treatment. As with Crohn’s disease, your doctor may prescribe medication to combat your symptoms and prolong periods of remission. 

They may also recommend that you cut back on spicy food that is more likely to irritate your bowels and replace it with milder, blander food. Your taste buds won’t be pleased, but your colon will appreciate it. Additionally, as with Crohn’s disease, surgery may be recommended down the road if medication and combination therapy aren’t enough. 

Contact GastroCare LI

GastroCare LI provides knowledgeable, compassionate care for those with Crohn’s and other ailments. Schedule a consultation with an experienced New York gastroenterologist by calling (516) 265-7049 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.

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