DUBLIN, OH (WCMH) — Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are incurable autoimmune illnesses that damage the digestive tract, afflicting more 1.6 million Americans, including about 30,000 people in Central Ohio.
Saturday evening at Coffman Park in Dublin, a record 4,000 participants attended the ninth annual Take Steps Columbus walk to raise awareness and research funds to help find a cure for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), caused by a hyperactive immune system reaction that attacks healthy digestive tissue, likely in response to environmental triggers, a viral illness or stressful periods in genetically predisposed people.
Usually diagnosed in adolescence and now at an increasing rate and at a younger age, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis represent two chronic and at times debilitating diseases that often require at least one surgery to treat strictures, obstructions and severely inflamed intestinal segments. About half of those patients require multiple surgeries during their lifetime.
The Central Ohio Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation organization was credited with the seventh top fundraising Take Steps event in the nation in 2015, raising more than $200,000. Since the first walk nine years ago, which drew a few hundred participants, the annual walk has raised more than a million dollars in research funds to help find a cure for IBD.
Brianne McFarland, executive director of the local Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation chapter, noted that Take Steps Columbus “is the best opportunity for them to get together with people who understand what it means to live with these diseases.”
Dr. Edward Levine, a gastroenterologist with the OSU Wexner Medical Center, said, “The disease is managed mostly with medical therapy, but oftentimes surgery is required. Diarrhea, abdominal pain, bleeding, weight loss, those are the predominant symptoms. A lot of people develop it at a very young age — most of the rest develop it in their late teens or early 20s.”
Medical treatment consists of a series of medications that suppress an over-reactive immune system, and treat any nutritional deficiencies that develop through malabsorption.
To learn more about Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation resources, go to http://www.crohnscolitisfoundation.org to learn more.