What's the best benefit of physical activity when you've got IBD?
It boosts my immune system and makes me stronger
It relieves stress and helps me deal
It makes me feel like I still have a life
Will I have to live with this all my life? Will it ever go away? Will I always feel like this? See the Answer

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You'll want to know about your options. Listen to college students living with Crohn's (this link takes you to the IBD U website).

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Why am I having symptoms in other parts of my body, too?

As if having disease in your intestines isn't enough of a bummer, IBD likes to make trouble throughout your body. Nobody's 100% sure why this is, but it's most likely because your immune system is reacting to the intestinal
inflammation by triggering inflammation in other organs and body systems. Not everybody gets these other symptoms (sometimes called "extraintestinal" or "systemic" symptoms), but if you do, they're a normal part of having IBD.

Some examples:

  • Arthritis. That's where your joints (usually the knees and ankles) get swollen, painful, and stiff. Medications can help, but the problems usually go away when the intestinal inflammation is controlled.
  • Mouth ulcers. These are like canker sores and usually develop during periods of active inflammation in the intestine. These, too, usually go away once the inflammation is treated.
  • Eye symptoms. Your eyes might become red and sore, or become super-sensitive to light. These symptoms usually appear right before a flare-up. Sometimes they'll get better as your inflammation is treated, but it's really important to talk to your doctor as soon as you notice them so you can get treated immediately.
  • Skin symptoms. Don't be surprised if you develop rashes or painful, reddish bumps on your legs. Also, your fingernails may slowly become shorter, wider, or generally weaker. These symptoms might go away once a flare-up is under control, but you should still let your doctor know about them as soon as possible.


Give me some numbers! What are the most current IBD-related statistics?

Here are some quick IBD-related facts and figures:

  • As of 2005, there are 1.4 million Americans diagnosed with IBD. That number is pretty evenly split between Crohn's disease and UC.
  • Of those, approximately 150,000 are kids and teens under the age of 17.
  • About 10 to 15 people out of every 100,000 are newly diagnosed with UC or Crohn's every year in the U.S.
  • The frequency of IBD in Europe is about the same as it is in the United
  • IBD seems to be hereditary. Studies have shown that about 20-25% of patients may have a close relative with either Crohn's or UC. If a person has a relative with the disease, the risk over a lifetime is about 5-10%.

A little history, please. How long has IBD been around?

We have no way of knowing for sure how long humans have experienced IBD before we had a name and treatment for it, although there have been reports throughout the centuries -- as early as the year 850 A.D.! -- of people suffering from intestinal problems that were probably Crohn's or UC. But here's the official history:

Ulcerative colitis was first described by two doctors -- Dr. Wilks and Dr. Moxon -- in 1875. Before that time, all diseases that involved chronic diarrhea were believed to be caused by infections and bacteria. Wilks and Moxon were the first
to identify the disease as being from a non-infectious cause.

If you have Crohn's, you may be wondering, "Who is this person whose name is forever connected to my life?" That's Dr. Burrill Crohn, a doctor at Mt. Sinai hospital in New York City. In 1932, Dr. Crohn and two of his colleagues, Dr. Leon Ginzburg and Dr. Gordon D. Oppenheimer, published a paper describing the features of what is known today as Crohn's disease (because Dr. Crohn's name came first, alphabetically, on the paper's byline).


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