Tips for living a better life with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis (UC)
Published May 19, 2023 • By Claudia Lima
Chronic Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD), the most common forms of which are Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis (UC), are characterized by inflammation of the lining of part of the digestive tract. The symptoms of these diseases have a significant impact on the daily lives of those affected.
On World IBD Day, celebrated on 19 May every year, we're going to give you some tips on how to live better with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.
Read our article!
IBD, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis (UC), cause areas of chronic inflammation of the digestive wall. They are both characterized by phases of flare-ups, alternating with periods of remission.
Due to the nature of their symptoms, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are disabling health conditions. Although there is no cure, current drug treatments, together with alternative treatments, allow patients to control or alleviate the symptoms for a long period of time and thus to have a satisfactory quality of life outside of the flare-ups.
How can you have a better life with Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis?
Understand your condition and its symptoms
The first step to living well with IBD is to understand the disease, its mechanisms and its symptoms. This helps to have a better management and control of the disease. Also, knowing how and why your symptoms occur helps to adjust your habits and adopt a healthy lifestyle.
Why not keep a diary to track your symptoms? Writing them down can help you understand how they affect your daily life. In addition, such information can be shared with your doctor so that he or she can adjust the treatment plan if necessary.
Follow your treatment plan
To assess the effectiveness of the treatment, regular medical monitoring is recommended. This consists of medical examinations such as biological analyses, and regular rectoscopy or colonoscopy.
It is also important to take control of your disease, and to do this you must pay attention to your treatment: you must not interrupt it or change it without consulting your doctor. Certain drugs (aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are contraindicated for people with UC.
You should also inform your doctor as soon as possible if you experience any unusual symptoms.
If you have any questions, your medical team is available to help you.
Find support and don't be alone
Because of the impact of IBD on your daily life, as well as on your relationships with other people, you should not hesitate to seek help and psychological support, especially since IBD remains a major taboo in our society.
If necessary, you can ask your family and friends, or your physician or a social worker for help. Patient associations and support groups, such as Carenity, Crohn's and colitis Foundation, etc. are also very useful as they allow you to benefit from the experience of other patients.
Have a well-balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle
For people with IBD, there is no evidence that diet directly influences the onset of symptoms and flare-ups. However, it can make symptoms easier or, on the contrary, more difficult to manage. In order not to exacerbate your symptoms too much, it is possible to adjust your diet, even temporarily. In fact, some foods may not be absorbed properly and others may trigger flare-ups.
In our articles "The FODMAP diet: can it treat IBD?" and "IBD: foods that can worsen symptoms" we take a closer look at how diet can affect the symptoms of Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis.
It is also strongly recommended not to smoke. Smoking has a negative effect on IBD, and in particular increases the risk of Crohn's disease flare-ups. Stopping smoking considerably reduces the risk of complications and flare-ups.
Know all places with public restrooms
Finding access to bathrooms and restrooms in public places is a common problem for people with IBD, as there are often not enough public toilets in cities and towns, and their distribution is uneven.
Sometimes, having a "I can't wait card" allows access to restrooms in some establishments and public places. In order to benefit from this card, one must be a member of Crohn's and Colitis Foundation.
Finally, there are several mobile applications that list the nearest public restrooms, such as Toilet finder (Play Store, App Store), etc.
Get financial help
If you have a chronic disease such as IBD, it is possible, under certain conditions, to receive financial assistance. To learn more about health insurance and financial help for people with IBD, visit Crohn's and Colitis Foundation website.
Take care of yourself
Stress, fatigue and intense emotions can affect the digestive system. So why not try an appropriate physical activity such as yoga, or even meditation? These alternative methods help reduce symptoms and better manage the disease.
The majority of patients with Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis lead a completely normal life, although at the time of flare-ups, daily life can become quite stressful. Fortunately, most people with IBD can still work, study and do sport.
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