A,B, and C made from Azathioprine, blood, and colonoscope

The A-Z of IBD (Part 1)

Sometimes it can be difficult to fully sum up life with IBD in a single sentence or even a single paragraph. It's a complicated beast-with more strands to it than most people realise! So rather than explain the symptoms, the medication, the tests, the appointments, and the daily struggle, I thought I'd put it into a handy A-Z instead! Struggling to explain your condition to loved ones? Then why not show them this post!

Using the alphabet to explain IBD

A is for Azathioprine:

Also known as Imuran, this immunosuppressant is often the first line of defense for patients when diagnosed. Taken as a daily tablet, it helps reduce our disease activity by lowering our immune system and preventing it from attacking our digestive system!

B is for blood:

Many patients with IBD experience blood loss in the digestive tract, which can present itself as dark stools or red streaks when we go to the loo. We also have very frequent blood tests to keep track of our condition! So yep we're pretty used to chatting all things blood!

C is for constipation:

Surprise- we can get this too! Those with narrowings or obstructions are prone to periods of constipation and have to be careful it is not a sign of a blockage or obstruction.

C is also for colonoscopy:

A pretty important test for those of us with IBD. A colonoscopy is a camera test of the lining of our bowel to see if our disease is active. It's not the most glamorous test to be honest with you (see P: Prep for more details!)

D is for diarrhea:

An obvious one, but one of the key symptoms of IBD is persistent diarrhea during a flare-up. It's not fun.

E is for Enteral nutrition:

Many patients are prescribed if a flare is particularly bad. It's basically a liquid-only diet, either done through special drinks or tube feeding.

F is fatigue:

Because whether in remission or not, most of us will suffer from this. And now, it's not just about being a bit tired: fatigue is a state of constant, almost unrelenting exhaustion.

G is for GERD:

It's not always a part of IBD but lots of us also suffer from Gastroesophageal reflux disease-in other words heartburn and acid reflux.

H is for Humira:

This is a biological medicine that patients inject themselves on a weekly or fortnightly basis. It's a medicine that helps target cells in our immune system to prevent the 'attack mode' that causes us so much pain.

I is for Iron:

We all need iron for healthy red blood cells but about 60%-80% of those of us with IBD are lacking in it leading to anemia. This is because we often lose blood in our digestive tract, struggle to have a balanced diet or absorb nutrients from it or supplements. Many patients with IBD are given an iron injection or infusion as traditional tablets might upset our digestion.

J is for joint pain:

Not all of the symptoms we have are around our digestion. Many of us struggle with painful joints too or even arthritis.

K is for Vitamin K:

We need this vitamin for healthy bones but those with IBD can be deficient in it (particularly those who have Crohn's Disease).1

L is for loneliness:

Having any chronic condition is an extremely lonely business but IBD can make us feel especially isolated at times. Socialising can be difficult, work can be impossible, and getting people to understand what we're going through is an uphill battle.

M is for MRI:

If we haven't had enough excitement during a colonoscopy, we'll then scheduled an MRI. We need to drink a special (translation: disgusting!) drink beforehand to coat the lining of our bowels and are then wheeled inside a tunnel to get a closer look at the parts of our digestive tract a colonoscopy can't reach.

The remainder of the alphabet can be found here.

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