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We Need to Talk to You About Our Gums, Tums And Bums

We Need to Talk to You About Our Gums, Tums And Bums

Crohn’s and Colitis New Zealand today called for kiwis to start talking about their stomach and bottom issues, to promote better understanding of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) to mark World IBD day on May 19.

“Crohn’s and Colitis Chief Executive Brian Poole said today, “We don’t talk about our bottoms, toilet issues and bowel motions, but we need to”.

“Despite around 20,000 New Zealanders adults and children living with chronic autoimmune diseases, Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis, public understanding of these conditions is limited, and we need to do more to increase awareness.”

Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are painful, life long, medically incurable diseases that attack the digestive system.

“For many patients, the urge to go to the toilet several times a day is so severe, they are frightened to leave the house. When they do, they need to make sure they know where they can get to a toilet quickly,” Brian Poole said.

“For patients who have had their rectum removed, they can’t tell if they have wind, or need to go to the toilet – accidents are common place, and humiliating. Lack of understanding and awareness can leave patients feeling very isolated.”

“These diseases are physically, emotionally, and financially devastating, and impact every area of a patient's life and the lives of those who support and love them," said Brian Poole.

“Access to toilets is a big issue for Crohn’s and Colitis patients - 12 year old patient Nicole Thornton recently presented a petition to Parliament calling for retail establishments to allow patients access to employee toilets,” he said.

"I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease 7 years ago, and talking about the impact of these diseases is really important," said 27 year old Detective Constable Rebecca Parker.

"World IBD Day provides the perfect outlet for patients to talk about what it means to have Crohn's and Colitis, and to help raise awareness and promote better understanding of how debilitating the symptoms can be."

“It took 18 months for doctors to find out what I was suffering from before I was diagnosed at age 19. I was training at Police College when one day I was in terrible pain and I couldn’t sit down – I ended up in hospital and told I might have Crohn’s Disease. When it was finally confirmed, it was something I had never heard of”, she said.

“I am fortunate that I can work full time, however due to the level of fatigue I experience, I can’t do much outside of work. When I was 22 I had an ileostomy bag for a year which gave my colon a rest – it was extremely difficult for me to deal with”

Otago Nurse, Dana Smith was 15 when she was finally diagnosed with Crohn’s after suffering from symptoms since she was 10. “I suffered from pain, vomiting, and nausea from a young age. I also had blood in my stool which I didn’t know to tell anyone about - by the time I was a teenager I was anaemic, and fainted in the shower”, she said.

“Because of the lack of awareness Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis, even amongst GPs, I was mis-diagnosed as having bad period cramps. I had never heard of Crohn’s and colitis, nor had my parents”.

“I’ve been in and out of hospital since I was diagnosed, and I may need a bag for my bowel motions in the future which is daunting. This illness has had a huge impact on my life”, said Dana.

Gastroenterologist Richard Stein today said there needed to be greater awareness of the symptoms of Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis amongst GPs. “Children in particular are taking too long to be diagnosed – the earlier management and treatment can start the better. We get less hospitalizations and emergency care presentations, decreased need for surgery, and improved quality of life”.

ENDS

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