Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is a term used to cover two chronic illnesses that vary in severity from patient to patient. Some will only suffer with inflammation in their colon, which is called Ulcerative Colitis (UC) and some can be affected anywhere throughout the digestive tract, which is called Crohn’s Disease. It’s currently still unclear as to what the causes of these chronic illnesses are, but it’s believed to be related to our genetics and our immune systems.
Those with IBD experience flare ups of the disease and the symptoms include a combination of abdominal pain and cramps, tiredness and fatigue, fever, vomiting and diarrhoea, severe weight loss, joint pain, and even anaemia. Suffering with these symptoms can be debilitating but there are methods to improve your quality of life when a flare up happens and suggestions on how to reduce the number of those cases too. Here are some ways to improve your way of life when living with Crohn’s or colitis.
Understand Your IBD
Getting to grips with your own disease is imperative in identifying what will trigger it and how best to handle it. Everyone develops their own methods of negating symptoms and avoiding flare ups altogether, so be vigilant in understanding your case. It can be difficult to focus on these things, especially when struggling with symptoms, but try to rationalize the disease as much as possible and look to the future. Staying positive and calm could help to offset some symptoms as stress is known to be a possible trigger to flare ups. Once you understand your IBD, you can better prepare yourself for potential flare ups and possibly avoid a situation that could cause it altogether.
Help Others To Understand
IBD diagnoses have become much more common in recent years, however, the chances of being met with confused looks when trying to explain your illness to someone is still quite high. Oftentimes, you might be explaining your issue whilst having a flare up. This can be an unpleasant experience as trying to concentrate through pain and discomfort can be a challenge at best. Find a way to succinctly recite what your disease entails so that you can quickly and effectively explain your situation. It also helps when asked about it in social situations to prevent you from accidentally giving far too much information!
The chances are, after finding out you have Crohn’s or Ulcerative Colitis, you’ll have had a number of treatments or medications prescribed to help alleviate your symptoms. Many of these treatments can have a significantly positive impact on your condition and it’s very important to speak to medical experts to find out the right course of action for you. If you’re finding that those treatments aren’t cutting it, or if you’re simply looking for alternative options, it may be worth looking for advice from a functional medicine clinic.
While classed as alternative medicine, functional medicine’s entire goal is to identify root causes of illnesses and target those causes to improve your condition. This specialty clinic offers science-based, personalized treatment and guidance to help you cope with chronic illness and improve your overall quality of life. Of course, before choosing any pathway of treatment, it’s incredibly important you conduct your own research to ascertain the best option for you.
Exercise And Fitness
Severe cases of IBD, as you’ll likely be aware, can make you resort to extended periods of time bedridden and sitting down resting. Cramps and abdominal pain can make moving around difficult, so suffering with Crohn’s or colitis can result in a more sedentary lifestyle. Finding ways to stay active in between flare ups is important to keep yourself in shape and also helps to improve your mental health and positive outlook on life. Low-impact exercises are a great way of staying fit without risking injury or further complications to your gut health. As joint pain is a common symptom of IBD, high-impact exercises aren’t recommended. Try yoga, fast walks, cycling, swimming or Pilates to help with stiff joints and muscles, building up some core strength and improving stamina.
A Healthy Diet
Eating the right foods is ultimately one of the most important parts of coping with bowel disease. While changing our diet has not been shown to cure IBD or even prevent it, there are ways in which we can improve symptoms. It’s important to remember that there won’t be one specific diet that will work for everyone, so do your own research into your needs and triggers to help construct a diet plan suitable for you. There may be some of your favourite foods that you’ll discover can be a cause of flare ups. Sadly, you should try to avoid these, no matter how tempting they might be. You can also find extensive lists of safer foods to try and common triggers like alcohol and processed foods. Read up on other people’s experiences and use it to help guide you towards a plan that works for you.
This guest post was graciously provided by reviewer and journalist Grace Murphy