Crohn’s Awareness Week
Hello, my name Is Adam Waugh. I suffer from a condition that many people don’t necessarily. I’m writing this piece to shed a little light on the world of Crohn’s and Colitis , not just what it is but also what it is like for the thousands of people that suffer with a condition that even they know very little about.
Crohn’s disease is defined as “a chronic inflammatory disease of the intestine, especially the colon, ileum and is associated with ulcers”. To those who suffer from it, it is much more than that. Crohn’s disease is an unfortunate lifestyle forced upon someone that affects everything from their diet to their social life. Crohn’s disease and its many forms are what is known as an “autoimmune disorder”. This is where the body’s own immune system attacks the natural bacteria in the gut trying to fight off an infection that doesn’t exist. In doing so it creates ulcers and tears in the intestinal wall which affect the ways in which food passes through the intestines. This can lead to some pretty un-fun side effects such as, constipation, diarrhoea, malnutrition and in worst cases anaemia from loss of blood. The most common symptom of the illness is an urgent and sudden need to go to the toilet. This causes a lot of distress and panic for sufferers as well as for many can be very embarrassing to have to constantly excuse yourself to use the toilet.
The biggest problem many sufferers face from Crohn’s disease is misdiagnosis, with over 115,000 people in the UK suffering from this condition the vast majority of which will have been misdiagnosed at some point along the line. I personally was misdiagnosed for 2 years with irritable bowel syndrome due to lack of knowledge on the subject and lack of testing done. Another big issue is the way Crohn’s can affect each individual sufferer. As it is different from person to person, what they can and can’t eat, what does and doesn’t trigger symptoms, it becomes very hard to treat. There isn’t one single way to treat the illness often requiring years of trial and error with medication and other therapies in order to achieve a decent lifestyle. For those who aren’t as lucky and don’t respond to medication the only other alternative is often surgery, this involves removing a large portion of the affected intestine and the use of a stoma bag which for some is the most embarrassing thing possible.
There is ongoing research to find a cure for this condition with help from societies such as Crohn’s and Colitis which provides help to those in need, organising events and funding research into a cure. Their website can be found at https://www.crohnsandcolitis.org.uk/. As of yet there is no cure only ways to manage the symptoms, there is hope however that there will be a cure someday in the future.