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Kari Johnson: Health Literacy & Chron's Disease or Ulcerative Colitis

Kari's awesome original artwork!

As a result of a lack of health literacy, inflammatory bowel disease kills and harms people because it leads to ulcers, and miscarriages. Also, the decrease in accurate health literacy leads to stigmas which do not respect the pain people experience through this condition. Inflammatory bowel disease is not something which is commonly a piece of conversation, so what exactly is it. Well, IBD is a disease where there is inflammation in the GI tract which is the area from the mouth all the way to the anus (CDC 2018). This inflammation is categorized into Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis. The main difference between the two is Crohn’s can affect from the mouth to the anus, while ulcerative colitis only affects the large intestine and rectum which leads to ulcers (CDC 2018). Ulcerative colitis affects people by producing these inflamed ulcers, while crohn’s happens in patches on the digestive organs such as the stomach or intestines (Office on Women’s Health 2019). The origin of this disease is not known for sure, but researchers have some hypotheses . These diseases are thought to be genetic or more common in people who smoke(National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases 2017). IBD can lead to things such as colon cancer, weak bones, inflammation, dehydration, malnutrition, kidney stones, and toxic megacolon(Office on Women’s Health 2019). Although some of these results do not seem as bad, they all degrade the quality of life all people live. As a result of health illiteracy, people do not know these valuable things about IBD and therefore do not seek treatment early enough to reduce the inflammation. There is no cure for IBD, but medications can lead to remission. These periods can either be a few weeks to a few years where there is no inflammation. Therefore, IBD is a condition which needs to be taken seriously and respected for those people who suffer through it everyday. This is not happening in our world now because of the lack of health literacy on this topic. Most things people read about this disease are through social media. These people who spread information about it lack the correct knowledge, and therefore misinform people. Also, the decrease in accurate health literacy leads to a stigma which leaves people more susceptible to these issues. These stigmas include the idea that people become weak through the symptoms which IBD brings off. People associate these problems with cancer or possibly other things such as addiction. Therefore, the lack of health literacy contributes to these stigmas where people do not take into consideration the real conditions in which these people face. Research concludes that IBD was found to be the most stigmatized of seven diseases when compared to genital herpes, alcoholism, breast or testicular cancer, diabetes, obesity, and HIV/AIDS (Boston Medical Center 2018). The lack of health literacy leads to high stigmatization, and discourages people from seeking treatment, which can lead to health ramifications, such as miscarriages. Most people do not know how much harder it is for women with IBD to conceive and give birth. Women in periods of remission, although, receive a normal pregnancy, but others with IBD who are not in remission are at risk. The inflammation in the intestines can affect the baby and often lead to these miscarriages. The inflammation can also lead to extremely painful ulcers in the stomach. The ulcers can form pus and mucous which lead to the need to use the restroom often(Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation 2015). Some people might laugh and mock these people because they have to constantly do this. These people, once again, do not respect or understand the entire list of conditions which this awful disease brings. Moreover, IBD is a disease which needs to be accurately talked about on social media and platforms where people can learn more about the condition, and they can respect others with the condition.


Definition & Facts for Crohn’s Disease. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. 2017.

Inflammatory bowel disease. Office on Women’s Health.2019

News from the IBD Help Center. Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. 2015.

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