Athletes, who are usually thought to be the epitome of health, often deal with the devastating impacts of digestive illness.

While our favorite sports heroes may seem superhuman many of them must face diseases like Diabetes, Cancer, Irritable Bowel Syndrome,  Inflammatory Bowel Diseases & other ailments just like everyone else.  While it can be embarrassing to talk about digestive diseases, many athletes do step forward & share their story, helping to gain awareness & understanding.

Frank Gutiérrez is a Golden Glove award winning Major League Baseball outfielder for the Seattle Mariners baseball team. He was recently diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Gutiérrez had been suffering with symptoms since the summer of 2010. It was originally thought he was suffering from chronic gastritis. Finally he went to the Mayo Clinic where doctors gave him the diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. IBS has interfered with his ability to play for the Mariners this season, causing him to sit out many of the team’s games. Gutiérrez is working on trying to get back into his routine while trying to manage the symptoms of IBS.

Jessica Shults recently announced that she was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis. Shults is one of the top Women’s College Softball players & was on pace towards breaking the national hitting record this season until Ulcerative Colitis sidetracked that goal & sent her health into a tailspin. She ended up losing 25lbs & had to be hospitalized on multiple occasions. Shults was too ill to even be able to hangout in the dugout while her team, the Oklahoma Sooners, made their run to the Women’s Softball College World Series. The Sooners eventually lost to Arizona State in the College World Series. Shults is now focused on treating her Ulcerative Colitis & is hoping to make a triumphant return to the Oklahoma Sooners for her Junior year next season.

It’s great that both of them opened up about the struggles they’re facing & hopefully they’ll find treatments that allow them to have good health & allow them to carry on with their successful sports careers.