Managing Inflammatory Bowel Disease at School and Work
with Inflammatory Bowel Disease Away from Home Can be Extra Challenging
For the more than one million Americans who suffer from
inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), coping with a chronic intestinal condition
can be difficult, and certain settings can make it even more challenging.
“Once we step out of our homes, we have less control over our
environment,” said Tiffany Kratzer, M.D., director of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Program at Wake
Forest Baptist Medical Center. “But since many of us spend
most of our days at school or work, it’s important for patients with IBD to
learn how to deal with their illnesses outside of the home.”
The two most common types of IBD are Crohn’s disease and
ulcerative colitis. According to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of
America, these illnesses cause chronic inflammation and damage in the
gastrointestinal tract, leading to symptoms such as persistent diarrhea,
abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, weight loss and fatigue.
“Even though there is no cure for IBD, there are ways to mitigate
the symptoms and take back some control over public environments,” Kratzer
She offers the following tips for dealing with IBD at school and
Develop a medication routine (and stick to it): Make
taking your medication part of your daily routine, like brushing your teeth. If
you are required to take your medication twice a day, leave it by your
toothbrush so you don’t forget. Your lunch hour is a good time to take a third
dose, if needed.
Scope out a private bathroom: Always know where your
nearest restrooms are and if possible, try to locate a facility that is not
highly trafficked. To help ease public restroom anxiety, consider using
flushable wipes and non-aerosol air freshener.
Turn to your doctor for support: Your
physician is your advocate. Without revealing your medical condition, your
doctor can explain your unique needs to supervisors or teachers. In some cases,
special arrangements may need to be made for extra bathroom privileges.
Ask about probiotics: There’s promising research that
shows taking a probiotic every day can improve IBD symptoms and perhaps even
help to reduce flares. Before taking a probiotic, talk with your doctor to find
out which one may be right for you.
“Patients with IBD may
never gain total relief from their conditions,” Kratzer said. “But there are
many ways they can make their lives easier and less stressful, thus reducing