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National Digestive Disease Awareness Month

National Digestive Disease Awareness Month

May marks National Digestive Disease Awareness Month, a month dedicated to spreading awareness about conditions related to the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. This month is very important, as digestive diseases don’t always get the attention they deserve, causing many people to go undiagnosed or feel isolated with their symptoms. However, the health and wellness of our guts is essential and something that should be talked about. In this article, we’ll delve into the details of National Digestive Disease Awareness Month and how to best observe it.

 

What are digestive diseases?

To understand the significance of this month, we need to first break down what exactly digestive diseases are. The digestive system is comprised of the GI tract, gallbladder, pancreas, of liver, all of which work together to break down and process the food we eat. Ensuring that our digestion runs smoothly is essential to supporting our energy, cell repair, growth, and development.

Digestive diseases can affect one or many parts of the digestive system. Some examples of digestive diseases include:

  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Crohn's Disease
  • Ulcerative Colitis
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
  • Diverticular Disease
  • Celiac Disease

These conditions can cause both short-term and chronic symptoms that can range from being minor to severely debilitating. As a result, digestive disease can impact one’s quality of life and daily function.

 

What makes National Digestive Disease Awareness Month important?

There are several reasons why it is important to observe National Digestive Disease Awareness month, including:

1. Awareness. Digestive diseases are incredibly common, with as many as 60 to 70 million people being impacted by some type of digestive condition (1). However, many people go undiagnosed and thus do not get the treatment they need. Spreading awareness about these conditions can help individuals recognize their symptoms and seek medical attention earlier, thus finding relief and support sooner.

2. Resources and education. This national campaign also provides individuals with resources and education on how to support their digestive health. Through medical screenings, diet, and lifestyle changes, people can improve the wellness of their gut.

3. Support. Suffering from a digestive disease can be isolating, especially because these conditions are not talked about enough. This month can help patients connect with others who share their disease, providing a network and support system of like-minded individuals. It can also connect patients with healthcare professionals who can help with treatment.

4. Advocacy. Spreading awareness about digestive diseases can lead to increased funding and research for digestive conditions, which could potentially lead to new treatment options for patients.


What can I do during National Digestive Disease Awareness Month?

There are plenty of ways to observe National Digestive Disease Awareness Month, and you can choose to get involved however you like. Below are some of our favorite ideas.

  • Get checked. If you are experiencing any signs of a digestive disease, or are just feeling some overall discomfort, it is likely time for a doctor’s visit! Start by making an appointment with a gastroenterologist, which is a doctor that specializes in these types of conditions. They’ll be able to assess your symptoms, order labs and testing, and offer treatment options to put you on a path to relief.
  • Educate yourself and others. Take some time to learn about the different digestive diseases, including their signs and symptoms. Don’t be afraid to share your knowledge with friends, family, and others, and don’t forget the power of social media! This can be a great tool for sharing information and resources on digestive diseases.
  • Volunteer. If you have a bit of extra time on your hands, consider doing some outreach in organizations geared at digestive diseases. You can help to support campaigns, manage events, or support operational aspects of the organization.
  • Nourish your own gut. An essential part of a healthy digestive system is to fuel it with the right foods. Our guts need a wide array of foods to provide it with the nutrients and healthy bacteria it needs to thrive. Use this month to experiment by expanding your pallet, incorporating new and healthy foods to support your digestion.

Conclusion

In summary, digestive diseases are incredibly common, yet they can be both debilitating and isolating to deal with. National Digestive Disease Awareness Month sheds light on these conditions while offering practical resources, networks, education, and support for those that suffer from digestive diseases.

 

References

  1. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-statistics/digestive-diseases

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