1.6 million Americans suffer from this debilitating condition

1.6 million Americans suffer from this debilitating condition

Frequent runs to the bathroom, intolerable stomach pains and exhaustion are just a few of the side effects of someone living with chronic and lifelong inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), known as Crohn’s and Colitis. This serious condition affects more than 1.6 million Americans, interfering with their everyday life and causing regular pain and discomfort.

Crohn’s disease specifically affects the gastrointestinal tract, with inflammation anywhere from the mouth to the end of the colon, and colitis affects the large intestine or colon with inflammation and ulcers. Both diseases are similar when it comes to the symptoms a majority of patients experience, which is why they are classified together as IBDs.

Dr. Anthony Grande, a gastroenterologist at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill., shares the symptoms of IBDs:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss

While each of these IBDs present their own challenges for everyday life, it is possible to live a normal life with a combination of medical treatments and lifestyle adjustments that work best for the individual.

“Medications include oral or pill forms, IV forms and even shots you can give yourself in the convenience of your own home. At all costs, we want to avoid you having surgery, which is why it is important to find a treatment plan that works best for you,” says Dr. Grande.

Along with a treatment plan, The Crohns and Colitis Foundation also suggests adjusting a patient’s diet and exercise routine to improve the individual’s quality of life. Consuming a diet that includes plenty of water, limited dairy products and greasy foods and smaller meals, as well as establishing a regular exercise routine, can all help ease symptoms.

Patients can go into the remission stage at any time, but it is likely symptoms will return at some point in their life. Because of the unpredictable course of these IBDs, it is difficult for physicians to determine whether your treatment plan is working, so it is important to follow up with your doctor on a regular basis.

“I believe that your treatment plan should always be a team approach. There should always be an open dialogue with your gastroenterologist about the concerns of your conditions, the various medications that are available and what you feel is a right fit for you. Our goal is to try and heal the inflammation and make you lead as normal of a life as possible, which is very possible today,” says Dr. Grande.

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  1. Since this can be a job-disruptive illness, many people with this cannot manage jobs to the satisfaction of their employers. This leaves one of the biggest difficulties- being able to pay for personal insurance to cover the costs of the associated problems.
    Also, some of the insurance plans refuse to pay for some of the better treatment options, such as Humira.

  2. Though I didn’t have the bleeding, the rest of the symptoms were present. However, my gastroenterologist/internist didn’t diagnose me with IBD. In fact, nobody could figure out what was wrong with me.

    Then one day, the pain went away with the rest of the symptoms. Never had any problems since then.


About the Author

Danielle Sisco
Danielle Sisco

Danielle Sisco, Health enews contributor, is a public affairs and marketing intern at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal, Ill. She is a Senior at Illinois State University, and will be graduating in December 2017 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Relations and Business Administration. In her free time, Danielle enjoys going to country music concerts, coaching and playing volleyball, and spending quality time with her family, friends, and puppy.

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