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December 2, 2016

It Is Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Week!

Crohn's and Colitis Awareness Week is December 1-7! This week is in appreciation to the family members and caregivers who support people in the United States living with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. It also commends health care professionals who care for Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis patients and biomedical researchers who work to advance research aimed at developing new treatments.

To help create awareness of Crohn's and Colitis, our highly educated physicians have put together a educational packet for individuals interested in learning more about such diseases:

Overview

Ulcerative colitis (UL-sur-uh-tiv koe-LIE-tis) is an IBD that causes long-lasting inflammation and sores (ulcers) in the innermost lining of your large intestine (colon) and rectum. Crohn’s disease is an IBD that cause inflammation of the lining of your digestive tract. The inflammation can involve different areas of the digestive tract — the large intestine, small intestine or both. In Crohn’s disease, inflammation often spreads deeper into affected tissues. Collagenous (kuh-LAJ-uh-nus) colitis and lymphocytic colitis also are considered inflammatory bowel diseases but are usually regarded separately from classic inflammatory bowel disease. These diseases must be considered lifelong diseases, even though remissions sometimes last many years or relapses sometimes never occur.

Causes

The exact cause of inflammatory bowel disease remains unknown. Previously, diet and stress were suspected, but now doctors know that these factors may aggravate but don't cause IBD. One apparent cause is an immune system malfunction. When your immune system tries to fight off an invading virus or bacterium, an abnormal immune response causes the immune system to attack the cells in the digestive tract, too. Heredity also seems to play a role in that IBD is more common in people who have family members with the disease. However, most people with IBD don't have this family history.

Risk Factors

Some Risk factors for are as follows:

  • Age: Most people who develop IBD are diagnosed before the age of 30 years old
  • Race or Ethnicity: Caucasians have the highest risk of the disease, yet it can occur in any race. Those of Ashkenazi-Jewish descent are at an even higher risk.
  • Family History: Those who have a close relative diagnosed with IBD — such as a parent, sibling or child — are at higher risk for developing the disease.
  • Cigarette smoking: Cigarette smoking is the most important controllable risk factor for developing Crohn's disease.
  • Where you live: If you live in an urban area or in an industrialized country, you are more likely to develop IBD.

Signs & Symptoms

Signs and symptoms that are common to both Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Fever and Fatigue
  • Blood in Stool
  • Abdominal Pain and Cramping
  • Reduced Appetite
  • Unintended Weight Loss
  • Sometimes mouth sores, eye inflammation, joint pain or other symptoms lead to diagnosis
  • For more information or if you believe you are suffering from Crohn's or Colitis, please contact your gastroenterologist.