CCX News Special: Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness (Part 1)
It is Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Week. Today we are kicking off a five-part series. The digestive diseases are often called “invisible illnesses,” because on the outside you can’t tell if a patient has a disease.
“It’s a dramatic and potentially life-changing diagnosis,” says Dr. Jack Matlock, with Hennepin Healthcare.
Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis are chronic, inflammatory conditions. The diseases cause a person’s immune system to attack the digestive tract.
“Colitis affects only the last part of the intestinal tract, the large intestine or colon. Whereas, Crohn’s disease can affect any part of the intestinal tract, from the very top, at the mouth, all the way down to the bottom of the colon,” explained Matlock.
Crohn’s and Colitis Symptoms
Symptoms include: abdominal pain, diarrhea, rectal bleeding, constipation, bloating, weight loss and a host of other unpleasant conditions.
There is no cure for the debilitating diseases. Sometimes they are fatal.
Education and Support
Inflammatory bowel diseases can often leave people feeling depressed and alone. But there is help. The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation has more than 40 chapters and more than 200 different support groups nationwide.
“The biggest thing we want to offer is support to our patients and caregivers, not just the patients themselves,” says Cory Lanoux, manager at the Minnesota and Dakotas chapter for the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation. For more information on support groups click here.