1 in 350 people develops Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis – two categories of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBS). According to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA), 1.6 million Americans are estimated to be affected by any form of IBD.
Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are diseases that inflame the gastrointestinal tract, disrupting food digestion, nutrition absorption, and waste elimination.
Purpose of Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Month
Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are invisible diseases. The symptoms and its effects on the person may not manifest on the exterior, but what goes on internally can be debilitating physically, emotionally, and financially. And with the gastrointestinal tract being a major artery in a person’s daily functioning, the pain felt in the GI tract radiates all over the body causing not only overwhelming stomach pain, weight loss, malnutrition, arthritis but also emotional distress.
The purpose of Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Month is to reach individuals who have not heard about these diseases, educate them, and provide them with tools to become IBD advocates.
It is impossible for anyone unfamiliar with these diseases to relate to those affected by it, which is why the awareness raised during this month is crucial. More than the education, the purpose of Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Month is to encourage others to find a cure for these diseases.
Despite that we have already found breakthroughs for diseases that were long impossible to cure in the past, the cure for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis is yet to be established.
What can you do on Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Month?
November 14, 2011 was the day the U.S Senate passed Senate Resolution 199, a resolution to support the goals and ideals of Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Week, December 1-7. But with November being a full month, you can choose from different activities and events prepared by your local region.
Writing to your local community and encouraging them to join the caucus on Crohn’s and Colitis is a good place to start.
If you are active on social media, like the CCFA page on Facebook, follow the CCFA account on Twitter, and watch CCFA’s videos on YouTube. On CCFA’s YouTube account alone, you will find the latest research studies on cures for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis and other documented events by the CCFA. Share awareness month posters and press releases on your accounts as well to spread the word on Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Month to your network.
Sign up on CCFA’s advocacy network and get a notification every time there will be activities needing volunteers’ participation.
If you have a blog, you can install advocacy plug-ins and widgets on your page, too. Take advantage of your blog traffic and readers in spreading the word about Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
Wear purple shirts and or the purple ribbon as a form of support to patients with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis and their families.
Donate to crowd funding campaigns and help raise money for patients and families seeking your financial and moral support.
Join the race and the walk for IBD cures, too, and check with your local organization about Crohn’s and Colitis (CC) Team Challenges happening in your area. Change your life and the life of others, and help find cure for lifelong digestive diseases. These events are also great venues to meet co-advocates and individuals battling Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis and their families.
Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Month is celebrated all over the world. November 2014, Canada celebrated Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Month with a fun Latte-A-Day Challenge where participants are asked to give up latte and donate proceeds to Crohn’s and colitis research grants. A variety of educational symposia were also held across the Canadian states.
Message on Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Month
IBD affects anyone with Caucasians likely to be more affected than other ethnic groups.
Both inflammations of the GI tract, Crohn’s disease happens particularly on the lower part of the small bowel and the colon. Healthy portions of the gut and the inner and outer lining of the intestines can have patches of inflammation. For ulcerative colitis, the large intestines are particularly inflamed including the rectum and the anus. The inflammation starts at the rectum and extends upwards.
Symptoms such as diarrhea, rectal bleeding, abdominal pain, constipation, fever, weight loss, fatigue, night sweats, and in women, loss of normal menstrual cycle are common for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. While it is hard to distinguish whether a patient has Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, both diseases do have one thing in common, and that is the abnormal behavior of the body’s immune system, mistaking healthy and beneficial cells as harmful foreign substances. Ultimately, this puts the GI tract at risk.
There is no cure yet for Crohn’s disease, but medication and surgical removal of the large intestine are recommended for those battling with ulcerative colitis. With or without insurance, dealing with these diseases is a life-long commitment and can be financially draining. Additionally, the cost of having Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis is estimated to be $6 billion per year.
Special tips on Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Month
Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.
However, there are several things you can do to prevent these diseases from taking its toll on your body, such as the following:
- Maintain a healthy and balanced diet
- Load up on fruits and vegetables
- Take vitamins and minerals from natural sources and supplements
- Do not smoke
- Avoid certain food choices that may induce flare-ups such as milk and spicy meals
Staying informed and educated is the best way to address not only Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, but other life-threatening conditions. As symptoms start to set in, seek the help of a medical professional for a prognosis and for the immediate administration of treatment. A proactive attitude is the best way to avoid further complications.