Crohn's & Colitis
•Crohn's disease is a chronic (ongoing) disorder that causes inflammation of the digestive or gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Although it can involve any area of the GI tract from the mouth to the anus, it most commonly affects the small intestine and/or colon.
•Ulcerative Colitis is a chronic (ongoing) disease of the colon, or large intestine. The disease is marked by inflammation and ulceration of the colon mucosa, or innermost lining. Tiny open sores, or ulcers, form on the surface of the lining, where they bleed and produce pus and mucus. Because the inflammation makes the colon empty frequently, symptoms typically include diarrhea (sometimes bloody) and often crampy abdominal pain.
The inflammation usually begins in the rectum and lower colon, but it may also involve the entire colon. When ulcerative colitis affects only the lowest part of the colon -- the rectum -- it is called ulcerative proctitis. If the disease affects only the left side of the colon, it is called limited or distal colitis. If it involves the entire colon, it is termed pancolitis.
•Ulcerative colitis differs from another inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), Crohn's disease. Crohn's can affect any area of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, including the small intestine and colon. Ulcerative colitis, on the other hand, affects only the colon. The inflammation involves the entire rectum and extends up the colon in a continuous manner. There are no areas of normal intestine between the areas of diseased intestine. In contrast, such so-called "skip" areas may occur in Crohn's disease. Ulcerative colitis affects only the innermost lining of the colon, whereas Crohn's disease can affect the entire thickness of the bowel wall.
•What Causes These Conditions?
Although considerable progress has been made in IBD research, investigators do not yet know the cause. Studies indicate that the inflammation in IBD involves a complex interaction of factors: the genes the person has inherited, the immune system, and something in the environment. Foreign substances (antigens) in the environment may be the direct cause of the inflammation, or they may stimulate the body's defenses to produce an inflammation that continues without control.
•What Can You Do To Help Find A Cure?
A bill, THE IBD RESEARCH AND AWARENESS ACT, to support research and public awareness activities with respect to inflammatory bowel disease, and for other purposes was introduced to the House and Senate in May 2009.
Sen. Harry Reid [D-NV] sponsored the bill in the Senate and Rep. Jesse Jackson [D-IL2] sponsored the bill in the House of Representatives.
If there are 218 co-sponsors (half of the House) for the House bill and 51 co-sponsors (half of the Senate) for the Senate bill in the next 8 - 10 months, we will be well positioned to pass the bill.
We need your help to voice your support of this bill. Please contact your local Senator and Congressman/Congresswoman to encourage them to co-sponsor this piece of legislation.