ESTHER BUSH

This month, the “Take Charge of Your Health Today” page focuses on inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and a new care model for this set of diseases. Vianca Masucci, health advocate, and Esther L. Bush, president and CEO, both of the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh, exchanged ideas on this topic.

VM: Good afternoon, Ms. Bush. This month we’re talking about IBD. IBD is a general term for a variety of diseases that cause discomfort in the intestine. These types of diseases have become more commonly reported in the Black community over the past few decades.

EB: That makes sense, Vianca. As you were talking, I thought of all of people I know who have some kind of IBD, and I realized that I know quite a few. I don’t remember talking much about these before, say, a decade ago. There has been a greater awareness of these diseases in the Black communities. I don’t know if that’s because more people are getting them or because more people are talking about them.

VM: That’s an interesting point, Ms. Bush. I don’t think that researchers have figured that out either. One of the issues with IBD is that people don’t like to talk about the symptoms because they’re very personal. As Dr. Regueiro says in the overview, people don’t like talking about their bowels. But these symptoms can have a big effect on an individual’s life. The symptoms range from pain to abnormal bowel habits to symptoms outside of the bowels like arthritis.  IBD can make it hard for a person to rely on his or her body. It can be a very stressful disease—and that stress affects both physical and mental health.

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