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The 7 Most Stupid Myths I’ve Heard About IBD

One of the most frustrating things about living with IBD is the MANY myths we hear about the condition. Whether it’s from the media, through a ‘friend of a friend’ or even our own medical team at times! Here are seven of the most ridiculous myths I’ve heard about IBD…

1. I need to find the root cause

This is something I’m often messaged about on Twitter and suggests that my body is something of a Rubik’s cube and, if I just took the time to do so, I could simply just solve it. ‘Root cause’ ignores the fact that our disease can be so incredibly random and that actual science hasn’t managed to pinpoint a universal trigger yet. But sure, let’s ignore all of that and blame the patient instead…

2. It’s a modern disease

Yes, there’s no denying that levels of IBD are on the rise, but given Crohn’s was discovered in 1932 and Ulcerative Colitis even earlier in 18651 it’s safe to assume it’s not caused by that tub of Pringles you’ve just eaten (quickly googles when Pringles were first made). Of course, diet changes as a population have been linked to an influx of many conditions-but IBD is not entirely a modern condition that we’ve inflicted upon ourselves.

3. Medication just masks the symptoms

Another myth is the medication we take is just to mask our symptoms, and we should just… yep you’ve guessed it, FIND THE ROOT CAUSE! Actually, this dismisses the great strides medication has made in relation to IBD. Yes, the medications are scary at times, but their aim is to program the immune system so patients might experience long-term remission even when they’ve stopped them. They do far more than just act as a painkiller.

4. Patients are always underweight

Shoutout to the patients who aren’t underweight with IBD! How many times have you been dismissed by your medical team as you’ve not lost weight? Yep, this is another myth about IBD. My weight has always remained steady and I know plenty of people with IBD who are overweight too!

5. Patients always bleed

Another myth that’s commonly reported by the media. Yes, many patients with IBD experience bleeding, but some don’t. And, if like me, you don’t experience bleeding; it doesn’t mean your condition is less severe. Similarly, some individuals actually suffer from constipation rather than frequent diarrhea– we’re all different. Sadly, doctors often use weight loss and bleeding as a marker for IBD and dismiss those who don’t have these symptoms.

6. It’s not life-threatening

‘It could be worse, at least it’s not life-threatening right?’ we often hear people say. Without being morbid, IBD can be life-threatening at times. Thankfully deaths are rare in the community (although sadly I’ve heard of several quite recently). But given the numerous potential complications of this disease (from bowel perforations to malnutrition), it can be possible.

7. You can have Ulcerative Colitis AND Crohn’s Disease at the same time

This tends to be a patient myth and can really confuse new patients! Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease are both types of IBD; so it is incredibly rare (and nearly impossible-although I say nothing is ever impossible with this disease!) to have them at the same time together. Of course, a patient’s diagnosis can change from one to the other when more testing is done.

The term ‘Crohn’s colitis‘ is sometimes used to diagnose Crohn’s in the colon- but this is just distinguishing the location of Crohn’s and does not mean you have U.C too! I know some people claim to have been diagnosed with both at the same time-so do let me know in the comments if that’s you!

What’s the most annoying myth you’ve heard about IBD?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The InflammatoryBowelDisease.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.
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