World IBD Day is a global event which takes place on May 19 each year. It is intended to raise awareness of Crohn’s disease & ulcerative colitis, which are collectively known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Coordinated by the European Federation of Crohn’s & Ulcerative Colitis Associations (EFCCA), it involves patient organizations representing over 50 countries on five continents. The aim of this year’s World IBD Day is to promote the discussion on IBD and wellbeing.

On the occasion of World IBD Day we are starting a mini-series about the condition based on our patient booklet “Fast Facts for Patient and Their Supporters: Inflammatory Bowel Disease”.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease: The Facts

  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) comprises two distinct disorders with overlapping features: ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
  • These are chronic (long-lasting) conditions that come and go. They flare up and then become inactive. A flare up is called a relapse and an inactive time is called a remission.
  • Ulcerative colitis is excessive inflammation of the large bowel (colon and rectum). Crohn’s disease is patchy inflammation anywhere inside the digestive system, from the mouth to the anus.
  • No two patients are alike. Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease differ greatly from one patient to another, and each disorder varies within the same patient over time.
  • Modern medicine has greatly improved the outlook for patients with IBD. These disorders can be controlled, and patients can live full productive lives.

Is IBD the Same as IBS?

No! IBD is not the same as the more common irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The gastrointestinal system is not inflamed in IBS.

Who Gets IBD?

Ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease can occur in both men and women of any age but are most common in late adolescence or early adulthood. These disorders can be controlled, and patients live full productive lives.

Modern medicine has greatly improved the outlook for people with IBD and there is a lot that you can do to help yourself!

What Is Ulcerative Colitis?

Bloody diarrhea is the most common symptom. You may also notice slime (mucus) in your stools and have cramping pain when you have a bowel movement.

The severity of symptoms ranges from a few blood-stained bowel movements to a lot of diarrhea with dehydration and anemia from loss of blood. When inflammation is in the rectum only (proctitis), you may have bleeding with formed stools. Ulcers only occur in a few patients and only when the condition is severe.

The inflammation begins in the rectum. It may extend higher to a variable extent or involve the entire colon.

What Is Crohn’s Disease?

Symptoms depend on the part of the gut affected by the disease.

Patients with the most common pattern of disease usually notice pain and/or tenderness in the lower right abdomen, and may have diarrhea and weight loss.

Further Information

Further information on IBD can be found here:

 

Information based on Fast Facts for Patients and their Supporters: Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Karger, 2019).

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