Feeling some unusual gastro symptoms?
If you think you might have something worse than just a funny tummy, you’re not alone.
The GUTS campaign is an initiative launched on 19th May – World IBD Day, aimed at raising awareness about inflammatory bowel diseases.
UC only causes inflammation in the large intestines (i.e. colon) and the rectum. UC usually starts at the rectum but may spread continuously to the entire colon. Inflammation only occurs on the innermost layer of the intestinal lining (i.e. mucosa).
CD can affect the entire gastrointestinal (GI) tract, but commonly inflames the end section of the small intestines (i.e. ileum) and the large intestines (i.e. colon). Inflammation may extend through the entire thickness of the bowel walls and be ‘patchy’ – leaving some areas normal.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
IBS doesn’t involve any inflammation of the bowels and it’s not a disease. IBS is better defined as a collection of bowel symptoms, with no known underlying cause.
It can be difficult to distinguish between IBD and IBS since they share certain symptoms (e.g. diarrhoea and constipation).
Hi, my name is IBD
It’s short for Inflammatory Bowel Disease. And I can wreak havoc in people’s lives. Simply put, I am what my name says – I cause inflammation in people’s bowels.
(PS: Don’t confuse with me IBS, sure we share some family features, but we are not the same!)
May is the official Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness month and 19th May is World IBD Day.
However, the GUTS campaign extends beyond 19th May – it’s a never-ending, awareness-raising initiative.
I’m more common than you think
You probably don’t know it, but I lurk in the lives of one out of 320 of your Facebook friends or Instagram followers.
I tend to move in when people are in their mid-teens to adulthood, but I don’t victimise according to age or race (though you may tend to find me living among Caucasians more than any other racial and ethnic subgroups).
I feel that I’m quite important in society, especially when people have made an awareness month for me.
Flare-ups vs remission
When symptoms come (i.e. flare-up), they can be mild or severe, and can take months for them to disappear (with treatment or otherwise).
When they go (i.e. remission), we don’t know how long a person will stay symptom-free or when the next flare-up will come about – it just cannot be predicted.
This is what other people often think of me
My presence often disrupts normal bodily functions like food digestion, nutrient absorption and going to the toilet – but this is only the surface of what actually happens.
Everybody responds differently to me and symptoms can come (i.e. flare-ups) and go (i.e. remission).
- Anaemia and weight loss
- Delayed growth in kids
- Absence from work/school
- Embarassment, shame and fear
Why? Because of your body’s response to inflammation, combined with exhaustion, disturbed sleep, pain and anxiety (e.g. worrying about the constant need to go to the bathroom).
Why? Because of no appetite, or it just comes ‘straight out’. Also inflammation of the small intestines impairs nutrient absorption while inflammation of the colon impairs water absorption, causing diarrhoea.
Anaemia and weight loss
Why? Because of reduced iron in the diet, losing blood from the bowel, malnutrition, diarrhoea or no appetite.
Delayed growth in kids
Why? Because CD can cause disruption of nutrient absorption from the gut, but most commonly because of low food intake or wanting to avoid eating altogether to prevent getting abdominal pain, cramping and diarrhoea.
Absence from work/school
Why? Because symptoms could take weeks or months to get better.
Embarassment, shame and fear
Why? Because of having to go to the bathroom 10 times in an hour, or constantly rejecting social gatherings and being mentally tied to a bathroom.
But I’m more than just a bathroom disease
Some people will think that once you ‘go’, you’ll get better. But, they don’t know about the not-so-visible symptoms that are beyond the bathroom.
Don’t just take my word for it, hear it from someone who actually lived and dealt with me, Kim – diagnosed with UC since 2002.
Have you got the guts?
Now, have a listen to his guts
Someone actually wrote a song about me – Luke Escombe (Sydney songwriter, musician and comedian) tells his story about how he dealt with me in a catchy music video.
I take my hat off to people like Luke, because he took ownership of me, and also because I know I can be quite a pain in the backside – literally.
Don’t delay if you suspect something is wrong, get your guts checked by a GP
Getting diagnosed and treated early could mean you have better overall outcomes.
Inflammation or irritation? IBD or IBS? Only your GP can tell you. Download our symptom checker sheet – it will help the conversation with your GP.