We’ve all seen the commercials for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis medications over the years. While awareness is good, many of them lead patients and, more importantly, the general public to think that inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) isn’t that serious. To many, it’s just a disease that causes someone to go to the bathroom a little more than the average person.
This is where we as patients have to work overtime to not only raise the proper awareness to go along with these commercials, but also prove ourselves more as well. We battle every single day, whether it be at home or at work, to live a normal life with Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis. It’s not always easy and these commercials sometimes downplay the disease.
We all wish that IBD was just a bathroom disease. Wouldn’t it be nice to not deal with all of the other symptoms that come with Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis? And that is one of the problems with many of these commercials: They leave out the fact that living with IBD isn’t just about going to the bathroom. It’s about a daily battle for many patients, both physically and mentally.
This daily battle doesn’t just start when the sun rises and sets. It’s a 24/7 job. Managing all the moving pieces that go into living with IBD is an additional responsibility that we all deal with, not only physically, but mentally every day. It’s constant and never-ending. It can lead to missed days at work and missed days with friends and family.
Here is just a short list of symptoms that many IBD patients deal with Monday through Sunday, every week:
Pain — not just in their stomach but their entire body.
Nausea — this isn’t the normal type either. We can be fine one minute and want to throw up the next.
Arthritis — many patients suffer from arthritis, which makes many joints hurt.
Eye problems — the inflammatory response can impact our vision.
Swelling — patients have random body parts like ankles and elbows, which will blow up any time.
Fatigue — the energy level of a patient can be a roller-coaster ride.
Side effects — medications that we need can impact our entire body.
Fevers — the body works overtime, which can mean fevers and night sweats.
Weight fluctuation — since our bodie’s don’t take in all the nutrients we need, at times, our weight can drop or rise very fast.
That is just a start, too. The list of symptoms that patients suffer from can look like a scroll unraveling in a movie. So why do these commercials portray IBD as just being a bathroom disease? That is a main symptom and an easy one to target since, it has such a drastic impact on a patient’s lifestyle.
The good news is that things seem to be changing a little bit. Recently, there was a new commercial that covered not only the bathroom side of Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, but the diet restrictions and pain sides of the disease as well.
The bottom line is that we are always our best advocates to teach others about IBD. If a friend has a question, don’t shy away from answering it. Give them the information they should hear in order to have them learn about Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis. It’s one of the only ways that people will will have the knowledge that Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis go far beyond the bathroom.
Brian Greenberg was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at age 11. His freshman year of college, he began a roller coaster ride of flares, hospitals stays, major surgeries, and more, with brief breaks of good health. After having an ostomy surgery 6 years ago, making it permanent 3 years ago, he is happy with his quality of life and enjoys helping others with their health journeys. When his health cooperates, he enjoys triathlons, hiking, climbing, skiing, and more.