What You Should Know About Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Here’s what it’s like to live with this rare disorder and how to cope with it.

For millions of people, constant bowel problems have become routine. Unending painful flareups cause you to miss workdays and limit social activities for weeks. Worse yet, you struggle with anxiety, embarrassment, and the constant frustration of why it happens and what to do about it.

If this sounds all too familiar, you might be dealing with inflammatory bowel disease. It’s important to understand the cause and how you can get it treated.

What is Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)?

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is a group of chronic conditions that affect the lining of your digestive tract. This diseases cause swelling and inflammation, especially in the intestines.

IBD occurs when your immune system mistakes healthy tissue for foreign invaders—like bacteria or food particles—and tries to fight them off. As a result, your colon becomes damaged and releases chemicals irritating your small intestines’ lining.

The two most common forms of inflammatory bowel disease are Ulcerative colitis, which affects the lining of the colon, and Crohn’s disease, which affects the small intestine.

What are the symptoms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease?

If you have IBD, common symptoms might include:

  • Diarrhea lasting more than 6 weeks
  • Constipation and bloating
  • Nausea, vomiting, and fatigue
  • Blood In Stools
  • Appetite and weight loss
  • Gnawing stomach pain after eating fatty foods (especially if consumed cold)

You should seek immediate medical care if you have had these symptoms for more than a month or if they worsen over time.

There’s no known cause of IBD. But medical experts believe that it’s due to genetic factors and environmental triggers (stress, food allergies, and bacterial or viral infection).

How common is Inflammatory Bowel Disease?

IBD is one disease on the rise—targeting vulnerable black and minority ethnic communities. A 10-year study by the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine revealed that there has been a steady increase in reported cases of African Americans.

Another study showed African Americans have more severe disease at presentation among adults with Crohn’s Disease.

Black women are at high risk for developing inflammatory bowel disease because of a genetic predisposition for specific types, like Celiac Disease (CD). CD is an autoimmune disorder that causes damage to the small intestine because of gluten intolerance. 

If Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is left untreated it could lead to Colorectal Cancer.

The good news is that IBD is not usually fatal. While there’s no cure yet, multiple treatments are available to help you manage symptoms and even prevent long-term complications.


If you’ve been diagnosed with any inflammatory bowel disease, the most important thing to know is that you’re not alone.

Even though it’s not an active conversation within the black community, you can still educate yourself and others about IBD.

Start by leading a healthy lifestyle and discovering foods that aggravate your condition. Also, let your family and friends know what they can do to help you. This can definitely make a difference in your daily life!


John Hopkins Medicine (2016, March 03). African-Americans and IBD. Retrieved June 22, 2022, from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/articles/african-americans-and-ibd

The American College of Gastroenterology (2017, October). African Americans Have More Severe Disease at Presentation Among Adults With Crohn’s Disease, and Asians Have More Severe Disease at Presentation Among Adults With Ulcerative Colitis. Retrieved June 22, 2022, from https://journals.lww.com/ajg/Fulltext/2017/10001/African_Americans_Have_More_Severe_Disease_at.647.aspx

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Our mission at the Stephanie A. Wynn Foundation, Inc.™️ is to remove barriers to healthcare treatment faced by underserved Black Women diagnosed with Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD), specifically Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease.

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