Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Awareness
Objective: To raise awareness for inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD)-- Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
Demographics: These chronic diseases affect males and females equally. IBD is more common in developed countries, urban areas, and Northern climates. Commonly, it is diagnosed in people between the ages of 15-25. At about age 50, there is another increase in the diagnosis of IBD.
Relevant Observations: Overall, IBD is a disease of white people living in developed countries and tends to be diagnosed most commonly in adolescents and young adults.
While Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis do appear to run in families, the connection is not always direct (such as from parent to child). The risk of inheriting IBD is generally low, except in cases where both parents have a form of IBD.
It is often difficult to diagnose which form of IBD a patient is suffering from because both Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis cause similar symptoms.
Symptoms related to inflammation of the GI tract:
Urgent need to move bowels
Abdominal cramps and pain
Sensation of incomplete evacuation
Constipation (can lead to bowel obstruction)
Both illnesses do have one strong feature in common. They are marked by an abnormal response by the body’s immune system. The immune system is composed of various cells and proteins. Normally, these protect the body from infection.
However, in people suffering from IBD, the immune system reacts inappropriately, mistaking benign or beneficial cells and bacteria for harmful foreign substances. When this happens, your immune system can do harm to your gastrointestinal tract and produce the symptoms of IBD.
Key Insights: Sometimes, it’s not obvious that a person has IBD. It might’ve taken every ounce of effort for him or her to get showered, dressed, groomed, and out the door.
Unintentional weight loss or gain can be a sign of the disease. Weight loss is often due to flare-ups that cause severe abdominal pain and bloody diarrhea that can mean spending most of the time in the bathroom.
Medications may cause visible side effects. For example: Prednisone, one of the most effective short-term medicines for quickly quelling a severe flare-up, has several side effects, including weight gain. Another side effect is "moon face," in which the cheeks get rounded, making for a chipmunk-like look that can give the impression that a person is heavy even when his or her body is rail-thin.
Many people with IBD have to avoid certain foods. As much as they’d like to eat a kale salad, they might not be able to. During a flare-up, a person may need to choose food very carefully so they don't make symptoms worse. People with IBD often feel tired or sick due to flare ups and frequent bathroom trips.
When a person with IBD has to go, they have to go. If you're in the car with a person with IBD, and they tell you they need to use the bathroom, listen to them. Pull over.
Having this disease might add even more stress to a person’s life. They might develop depression or anxiety, or other mental troubles.
There is no cure for Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis. IBD is a chronic condition, and people with it will typically need treatment throughout their lives. It is possible for someone to do well with their IBD, but this would be more correctly called deep remission, rather than a cure.
Message Proposition: Someone you know may have IBD. It could be you.
Communication Support: Flares are unpredictable and can throw someone’s life off kilter. It might be hard for afflicted people to hide their symptoms.
Media Environment: TV spot, social media, billboard, or print ads.
Resources: http://www.crohnscolitisfoundation.org/ https://www.badgut.org/ https://crohnsdisease.com/