Crohn's disease can complicate everyday activities, but you can overcome most challenges. Try these strategies to smooth out wrinkles at home, at work, and in your relationships.
Educate your family. Teach your family and friends what it's like to live with Crohn's. They may be confused about the disease, says Frank J. Sileo, PhD, a New Jersey psychologist who works with Crohn's patients.
Let them know which foods are easy for you to eat and which ones are troublesome.
Bring them to appointments. They can take notes while you speak to the doctor.
"Information can be overwhelming and terms can be confusing," Sileo says. "Four ears are better than two."
Embrace their support. Let your family help you with household tasks, health care visits, and meal planning, says Michael A. Farber, MD, a gastroenterologist at Crozer-Chester Medical Center in Pennsylvania.
"We all need support," Sileo says. "Don't feel ashamed or afraid to ask for it." Be clear about what you need and what you don't.
Plan dates carefully. During a flare-up, dinner and a movie is probably better than a long hike in the woods. Choose a restaurant and look at menus online before you go.
"Don't be afraid to speak up," Sileo says. "If Mexican food bothers you, say something."
Share when you're ready. There's no hard-and-fast rule about when to tell a new partner you have Crohn's.
"While it's not necessary to have full disclosure on a first date, you should recognize that honesty and communication is ultimately the best policy," Farber says.
For example, you could tell them how you check for bathrooms wherever you go, but beyond needing to have a restroom nearby, you're up for anything.
Talk about sex. Share your concerns. Tell your partner what feels good and what doesn't.
"Be clear and honest about what you're going through and what you need from them to avoid miscommunication and frustration," says David Roseman, MD, founder of the San Diego chapter of the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA).
Be flexible. "Intimacy does not have to equal [sex]," Farber says. Find other ways to be intimate.