December 1-7 is federally recognized as Crohn’s & Colitis Awareness Week, and it’s a good time to become aware of symptoms, treatment options and how to help others manage their conditions. Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis are the 2 major categories of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), which affect approximately 1.6 million Americans (roughly 1 in 200 people).
IBD is a reaction to the body’s inappropriate response to its immune system. It tends to be hereditary, but it’s causes are not well understood. IBD is more commonly found in Caucasians, although the incidence for African-Americans and Hispanics is on the rise. Inflammation of the GI tract often leads to conditions such as cramping, diarrhea, constipation and bleeding, which can be indicators of Crohn’s or Colitis. General symptoms, such as fevers, loss of appetite, fatigue and weight loss can also be common. Although the symptoms can be similar, the Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis affect different areas in the gastrointestinal tract.
As in the case of any situation where you or loved one is feeling out of sorts, schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible. He or she will be able to provide the laboratory tests, x-rays and other diagnostic considerations necessary to arrive at the proper diagnosis and treatment plan.
The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation website is filled with plenty of information that can help you make sense of all facets of IBD, including how best to manage the condition, complete with insights from patients and experts.
Here in Sanford, if you need to learn more about IBD or schedule an appointment with a physician, please contact Central Carolina Hospital at 919-774-2100. Staff members there will be happy to direct you to the right place and resources.