A Watford man battling a mysterious disease is fronting a campaign to help raise awareness of the illness and find a cure.

After suffering from what was first diagnosed as food poisoning, Ed Cornes, 27, later discovered he was suffering from ulcerative colitis, or Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), in 2007.

He is now encouraging people who may or may not have heard of the condition to support the National Association for Colitis and Crohns (NACC), which is calling for the NHS to create a national register of IBD patients to improve patient care, gather data for research to find a cure and identify patients who are not followed up in the system and may be at risk of complications.

IBD causes inflammation of the gut lining, causing the sufferer to endure intermittent lifelong bouts of bleeding, diarrhoea, cramps, fatigue and weight loss. The condition is chronic and can only be managed into remission and not cured.

As a result of his symptoms Ed cannot live the life of a normal 27-year-old as he has to treat his "bowel like a baby".

He said: "I think part of the issue is people are shy and embarrassed, in my experience I think when somebody is diagnosed they don't know where resources are. People with Ulcerative Colitis and Crohns need to come together and support one another.”

The condition affects all areas of his emotional, working and social life as he has to take great care in preparing very healthy foods, resting to avoid fatigue, attending regular acupuncture sessions and banning alcohol from his diet. Ed also drinks vegetable juice and avoids wheat and dairy products, caffeine and any foods that are "bad for him".

“It's not a pretty disease,” he said. “As a result, the NACC doesn't get as much money as other better known charities and there isn't enough awareness of the illness. Because there's not enough awareness of the illness, people are less likely to come forward."

“The campaign is really to create a register so research can be held to find a cure and make sure people don't fall out of the system.”

Based on limited medical evidence the NACC estimates that one in 250 people in Britain have the disease, but this campaign hopes to quantify the volume of people with the illness.

If the petition receives enough votes, the NACC can present it to the government to help improve the lives of sufferers with Ulcerative Colitis and Crohns all over the country.

To support the campaign, visit www.stepupandbecounted.org.

Ed has also created a social network for people with ulcerative colitis at www.ulcerative-colitis.ning.com.