What is Crohn’s disease?
Crohn’s disease is an autoimmune disease that may affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract from mouth to anus, causing a wide variety of symptoms. It primarily causes abdominal pain, diarrhea (which may be bloody if inflammation is at its worst), and may also cause complications outside the gastrointestinal tract such as skin rashes, arthritis, inflammation of the eye, tiredness, and lack of concentration. In simple terms, when someone has Crohn’s disease, his or her body attacks the digestive tract, thinking there is something wrong with it.
What is Ulcerative Colitis?
Ulcerative Colitis is an autoimmune disease. It has similarities to Crohn’s disease, but the immune system attacks only the large intestine, or colon. The main symptom of the disease is usually constant diarrhea mixed with blood, that worsens until treated. There are periods (usually called flare-ups) where the disease is active, and periods that are pretty much symptom-free. Ulcerative colitis occurs in 35–100 people for every 100,000 in the United States,or less than 0.1% of the population.
Both Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis are diseases known as Inflammatory Bowel Diseases or IBD.
My IBD Story
I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis in 2005, during my sophomore year of college. I had been frequently ill during the semester before, and having sharp pains in my stomach. Eventually, I got the bloody diarrhea too. (Cute, huh? Thank goodness I was a resident assistant and had my own bathroom!) I went home and, after a series of blood work and a colonoscopy, got diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis. It took several years to figure out what medications would help heal my body, and what I could eat without flaring up.
In 2011, I had the worst flare-up since diagnosis. While training for a Half Ironman triathlon, I had to give up training for the race to go on steroids, rest, and get my health back in order. Afer that flare, at the urging of some good friends, I sought out a second opinion at the University of Chicago Medical Center Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center. For the first time, I was under the care of a gastroenterologist who specialized in IBD. After another colonoscopy, and endoscopy, a small bowel MRI and more bloodwork, I got a new diagnosis: Crohn’s disease.
My disease did not change, but my diagnosis did, thanks to thorough testing. So that’s why you’ll see some blog entires that say Ulcerative Colitis and some that say Crohn’s disease. It’s all part of the journey.
For more on my journey with IBD:
On Living With Ulcerative Colitis: The Diagnosis
On Ulcerative Colitis: Weeks Following the Diagnosis
On Ulcerative Colitis: Health & Tact
On Ulcerative Colitis: It’s Part of Who I Am
On Ulcerative Colitis: Survival Mode
Gifts My Ulcerative Colitis Gave Me
On Ulcerative Colitis: Fear of Food
On Ulcerative Colitis: The Importance of Friends Who Get It
Let’s Be Honest: Lots of Things About This Disease Suck
On Ulcerative Colitis: 11 Random Things
On Ulcerative Colitis: Travelling
An Identity Crisis: Ask Me About My Crohn’s Disease?!
Resources for People With Crohn’s & Colitis
These are great places to go for more information about Crohn’s & Colitis.
I love reading blogs written by people with Crohn’s & Colitis. Some talk about their disease a lot, some just a little, but it is really nice to know that someone else really gets it.
Ali on the Run
Blood, Poop, & Tears
Full Frontal Ostomy (My Doctor Knows Me Best From Behind)
Run Stronger Every Day
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