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Talk With Family and Friends

If you hide the fact that you have Crohn's from your friends and family, it can add extra stress. Explain your Crohn's disease to those close to you in a matter-of-fact way. Let them know it can cause attacks of pain and diarrhea. This will help them understand why you often need to use the bathroom or may not feel up to socializing. 

Telling others what you're going through also means that you can turn to them for support and reassurance. They can be there for you during disease flares when you need extra help with grocery shopping or child care, or need a ride to a doctor’s appointment.

You may also want to consider talking with your supervisor at work and trusted co-workers about your condition. This will go a long way toward explaining absences at work or frequent bathroom breaks. You should also read up on the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) so that you know your rights in case you need to take off work for an extended period of time.

Joining a support group can provide you with the kind of help you can only get from people who know what you're going through. Ask your doctor if there are support groups in your area. The CCFA has an online support group where you can get tips and advice from people who've been managing their condition for years.

Pay Attention to Your Body

While no one knows exactly what causes Crohn’s disease, there are certain factors that can make symptoms of pain, cramping, and diarrhea worse. As you begin treatment, take note of what kind of symptoms you have and when. Do you always have diarrhea after eating? Are symptoms usually more active at a specific time of day? By recognizing when you're more likely to have symptoms, you can plan your day around them.

Also note which, if any, foods affect your bowel problems. While food does not cause the inflammation in your intestines, certain foods may make symptoms worse. For example, many people with Crohn’s find they need to avoid high-fiber foods such as seeds, nuts, popcorn, and corn, as well as spicy, fried, and greasy foods. Keep a food-and-symptom diary to help you track what foods cause problems so that you can avoid them.

You may want to talk with your doctor about working with a registered dietitian (RD). An RD can review your food diary to determine whether you're eating a balanced diet. They can also help you plan meals so you get a wide range of nutritious foods.

Also pay attention to how stress affects your symptoms. Many people with Crohn’s find that stress is a trigger for flares. Having Crohn’s can also be stressful. If stress causes added problems for you, look into learning relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises, tai chi, yoga, meditation, or guided imagery.