PanamaTimes

Wednesday, Feb 21, 2024

Crohn's: How social media is helping young people with the condition

Crohn's: How social media is helping young people with the condition

It was Christmas Day 2020 that Lucy Harman fell extremely ill.

For months before, she had been struggling with worrying symptoms, like blood in her poo, and she'd rapidly lost weight.

But during dinner, she collapsed, and was taken to hospital.

Within 48 hours, she was diagnosed with Crohn's disease.

Now, two years later, the 20-year-old is working with a large community online to raise awareness of the condition and its symptoms.

"I think the important thing is that often people think bowel diseases just affect old people, and they forget that anyone at any age can get it," Lucy - who has over 1 million likes on TikTok - tells BBC Newsbeat.

"I've met such a wide range of people online, some who are really struggling and in hospital all the time and other people who are out there living their lives, controlling their Crohn's quite amazingly."


Sharing my journey


Crohn's affects people of all ages, and it's a lifelong condition where parts of the digestive system become inflamed.

There's no cure, but the NHS says symptoms can be managed by tablets, injections or surgery.

Chloe says social media helped her learn more about her feeding tube


Chloe Dixon is another young woman who was diagnosed with the condition in 2019, and like Lucy, shares her experiences online.

Crohn's most commonly impacts the bowels, but it can impact any area of the digestive tract.

For the 21-year-old, it impacts her oesophagus - it means that she has to wear a feeding tube.

"My main goal is to spread awareness because Crohn's doesn't necessarily mean that you've got to have poor bowel movement," she says.

"It's not always the case, and when you do understand the full extent of Crohn's, it can literally affect any part of your GI tract.

"Even my consultant said to me, it's so rare to have someone like have a patient with Crohn's in their oesophagus, like it's extremely rare."

Chloe says social media has helped her understand more about the condition.

"I didn't know anything about a feeding tube, so to be able to sit there and watch others get their advice really helped me in my journey," she says.

"I always wanted to bring that to others."

Ziyad was diagnosed with Crohn's at age 17


Ziyad Al-Dibouni, an NHS radiographer, is also trying to raise awareness of Crohn's and colitis, another inflammatory bowel disease, through Instagram and TikTok.

The 32-year-old was diagnosed with Crohn's when he was 17.

He says he was initially told by doctors the symptoms could have been caused by tiredness, or stress from studying for his A-levels.

"When you speak to anyone with an invisible chronic illness, they will often tell you that they will experience some form of symptom or discomfort every single day," Ziyad says.

"And we just kind of get on with it. And lots of people often say that the most common phrase that we hear is 'you don't look sick'."

"I also have a radar key that gives me access to disabled toilets, because Crohn's and Colitis are actually classified as hidden disabilities," he adds.

"And that key has been very helpful as Crohn's disease can be very unpredictable."


What is Crohn's disease?


Crohn's disease affects people of all ages. The symptoms usually start in childhood or early adulthood.

It's a lifelong condition where parts of the digestive system become inflamed.

The main symptoms are diarrhoea, stomach aches and cramps, blood in your poo, tiredness (fatigue), weight loss.

The NHS recommends seeing a GP if you have, blood in your poo, diarrhoea for more than 7 days, frequent stomach aches or cramps or if you have lost weight for no reason.

Sarah Sleet, chief executive of Crohn's and Colitis UK, says that young people talking openly about Crohn's on social media has been "inspiring".

But she warns that there's a huge amount of misinformation online - so those who suspect they have symptoms should go to the doctor - instead of dealing with the condition themselves, which could be dangerous.

"First of all, young people will look at things that are really not appropriate to dealing with a serious condition which needs proper medical management.

"Sometimes there are quite dangerous restrictive diets, which are completely inappropriate.

"Or they might be told, take some supplements, or why don't you change the way you're living."

She also says young people might mistake symptoms for just being stressed or tired.

Sarah, Ziyad, Chloe and Lucy all say that if you suspect you have any symptoms, to go see your doctor.

"I think there is such a huge stigma attached to speaking about bowel symptoms in general, and not just when it comes to inflammatory bowel disease," Ziyad says.

"I think a lot of the stigma occurs through the lack of understanding or misconceptions some people have on the topic."

"It's incredibly important that you see your diagnosis in a positive light, because sometimes people see it as the worst thing in the world," Lucy says.

"But actually a diagnosis gets you the treatment that allows you to keep living your life.

"And so I think people need to try their hardest to be confident that talking to a doctor is not an embarrassing thing."

Newsletter

Related Articles

PanamaTimes
Global Law Enforcement Dismantles Lockbit Ransomware Operation
Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny has died at the Arctic prison colony
The President of Argentina Javier Mile does not fly private, he flies commercial, with the citizens he represents. And they LOVE him for it.
Bitcoin Reaches $50,000 for First Time in Over Two Years
Belo Horizonte: Brazil's Rising Carnival Hotspot for 2024
In El Salvador, the 'Trump of Latin America' stuns the world with a speech slamming woke policing after winning a landslide election
Tucker’s interview with Putin is over 50M views on X within the first 5 hours.
Finnish Airline, Finnair, is voluntarily weighing passengers to better estimate flight cargo weight
President Nayib Bukele has proudly announced El Salvador's remarkable achievement of becoming the safest nation in the Western Hemisphere.
Former Chilean President Sebastian Piñera Dies in Helicopter Crash
This farmer seems to understand science a bit more than the event organizer, Klaus Schwab.
Facebook turns 20: From Mark Zuckerberg's dormitory to a $1trn company
The Coolest Dictator in the World" on the Path to Victory in El Salvador
Macron, France and fake news
Indian-Origin Man 'King' Arrested For Smuggling $16 Million Drugs Into US
Can someone teach Americans that not every person with slanted eyes is Chinese?
Europe's Farmers Feeding the People, Protesting Against Politicians Who Do Nothing for Their Country and Serve Only Themselves at Taxpayers' Expense
Paris Restaurant That Inspired 'Ratatouille' Loses $1.6 Million Worth Of Wine
Brazilian Police Investigate Bolsonaro's Son for Alleged Illegal Spying
Police in Brazil Raid Residence of Bolsonaro Associate Over Allegations of Illegal Spying
Border Dispute Escalates as Texas Governor Vows Increased Razor Wire
OpenAI Enhances ChatGPT-4 Model, Potentially Addressing AI "Laziness" Issue
The NSA finally acknowledges spying on Americans by acquiring sensitive data
Report Reveals Toxic Telegram Group Generating X-Rated AI-Generated Fake Images of Taylor Swift
US Border Patrol States 'No Plans' to Remove Razor Wire Installed in Texas
Bitcoin Experiences Approximately 20% Decline in Value
Klaus Schwab recently appointed himself as the Earth's "trustee of the future."
DeSantis Drops Out, Endorses Trump.
Nikki Haley said former President Trump is "just not at the same level" of mental fitness as he was while president in 2016.
Residents of a southern Mexican town set the government palace on fire in response to the police killing of a young man
Samsung Launches AI-Driven Galaxy S24, Ushering in New Smartphone Era
Judge Questions SEC's Regulatory Overreach in Coinbase Lawsuit
The Ecuador prosecutor who was investigating the television studio attack, has been assassinated.
Is artificial intelligence the solution to cyber security threats?
Vivek Ramaswamy suspends his US election campaign and endorses Trump.
Viral Satire: A Staged Satirical Clip Mistaken as Real Footage from the 2024 World Economic Forum in Davos
The AI Revolution in the Workforce: CEOs at Davos Predict Major Job Cuts in 2024
Ecuador Reports 178 Hostages in Prison Gang Standoff
The Startling Cuban Espionage Case That Has Rattled the US Government
Two Armed Men in Ecuador, Dressed as Batman and The Joker Storm the Streets.
Armed Gang Raids Ecuadorian TV Station Following State of Emergency Declaration
Anti-Democratic Canada: Journalist Arrested for Questioning Canadian Finance Minister on Support of Terrorist Group
Ecuador's 'Most-Wanted' Criminal Vanishes from Prison
Mexican Cartel Supplied Wi-Fi to Locals Under Threat of Fatal Consequences for Non-Compliance
Border Surge Leads to Over 11,000 Migrants Waiting in Northern Mexico
Outsider Candidates Triumph in Latin American Elections
As Argentina Goes to the Polls, Will the Proposal to Replace the Peso with the Dollar Secure Votes?
Fatal Shark Attack Claims Life of Boston Woman Paddleboarding Near Bahamas Resort, According to Police
Former Bolivian President Evo Morales Denied Eligibility for 2025 Re-Election
Venezuela's Maduro Condemns 'Provocation' as UK Sends Warship to Guyana Venezuela's President Maduro has condemned the UK's deployment of the warship HMS Trent to Guyana as a hostile act amid ongoing border tensions
×