I've just read your mind and already answered your questions ;)

What is IBD?

IBD stands for Inflammatory Bowel Disease. The two main forms are Ulcerative Colitis (the one I have) and Crohn's Disease. 

What is the difference between Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn's Disease?

The main difference is location! UC can only affect the colon and rectum; whereas Crohn's can affect the whole of the GI tract (mouth to bum)!

What are the main symptoms of IBD?

EXCRUCIATING (no, I'm not exaggerating) abdominal cramps, blood in stools (or diarrhoea I should say), weight loss, extreme tiredness, swelling in the tummy, vomiting, fever and anaemia. 

Is there a cure?

No :( but there are many treatments that can settle the disease and possibly put you into remission. 

What are the common treatments?

Immunosuppressants (such as azathioprine, steroids etc.) which reduce the activity in the immune system, therefore forcing it to stop attacking you!!

Mesalazines are also quite common, they help reduce inflammation.

There is also biologics, these are antibody based medicines which get injected. I am on biological injections at the moment.

And of course the dreaded surgery. 

What causes IBD?

It is unclear, there may be a number of factors. It is thought that genetics increase the risk if you have a close relative with the disease, and also if you have a problem with your immune system. 

I think stress is also a big factor, for me personally, and many of my IBD friends too. 

Fact: people who smoke are TWICE as likely to get Crohn's Disease! 

What is a stoma and how does it work?

A stoma is basically an opening (it is Greek for mouth/opening) in your abdomen. It can be connected to your urinary or digestive system, but obviously for us IBD warriors its all about the digestive system. It is where they bring your intestines out and sew them on the outside of your tummy! Over the stoma you wear a bag/pouch to collect your waste. 

Fact: you cannot feel it, there are no nerve endings in a stoma!

Does it smell?

The stoma bags are specially designed to keep the smell out. The only way you can smell faeces is when emptying or changing them. 

Do you have a restricted diet?

Yes. However, it varies massively for different people. It is all mostly trial and error! 

I generally avoid: skins, raw veg, high fibre, nuts etc. - all the hard to digest things!

[If you have any more questions feel free to contact me by my Instagram or email! I advise you all to go the Crohn's and Colitis UK website (click here) and the NHS website (click here) for more information (this is where I sourced most of my information).]