IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) affects millions around the world. Despite that, there is a serious lack of awareness and knowledge. Moreover, there is so much wrong information prevailing around that it can be tricky to separate myths from the truth. With World IBD Day approaching (May 19), we thought it would be good to do some myth-busting. So, let’s get to it, shall we?
Myths and Misconceptions about IBD
Here are some bits of information about IBD that you may have likely heard a zillion times, but they aren’t true. Here are some common IBD myths that you should stop believing:
Myth – IBD is the same as IBS
Fact – It’s not! This myth has been around for as long as we remember. It’s high time it should be put to rest once and for all.
IBD and IBS are two different diseases. They may have some similar symptoms, such as stomach cramps, bloating, and constipation or diarrhea, but they are two distinct gastrointestinal disorders. One of the primary differences between the two is inflammation. IBD is characterized by chronic inflammation. But, it’s not present in IBS.
Myth – Stress causes IBD
Fact – Stress can trigger a flare-up and make symptoms worse, but it’s not found to be a root cause of inflammatory bowel disease.
Myth – IBD can be the result of the food you eat
Fact – Like stress, certain foods can trigger your IBD symptoms and cause a flare-up, but the food is not the cause of this chronic inflammatory disease. In fact, we have yet to identify the exact cause of IBD. Researchers believe that genetic and environmental factors could cause the disease, but there is no definite known cause of it yet.
Myth – IBD only affects the bowel
Fact – Since IBD is a bowel disease, it’s common for people to think it only affects the bowel. However, the fact is that it can also cause problems outside the gut. IBD can affect everyone differently, but some of the common non-gut issues it can cause include joint pain, mouth sores, skin problems, redness or pain in the eyes, vision changes, and fatigue.
Myth – There is no treatment for IBD
Fact – There is no cure for IBD, but there are treatments that can help manage it. IBD can be effectively managed, i.e., its symptoms can be controlled, complications can be prevented, and the disease can be kept in remission for longer with the right and timely treatment. Since IBD can affect different people differently, it may take some trial and error to find the best treatment for you. But, rest assured that there is treatment available for it.
In addition to medical treatment, various dietary and other lifestyle changes are also known to help with IBD management. Consult your doctor to figure out your action plan against the chronic disease.
You can do yourself (or your loved one) more harm by believing in these myths than you could do by doing nothing. Therefore, the very first step after an IBD diagnosis should be to educate yourself. Ask questions to your doctor, read from reliable sources, and talk to other people with IBD instead of believing in what just any other person says. Remember, getting the right knowledge is the first step towards IBD management, so make sure you don’t overlook or ignore it.