Tips for Everyday Challenges of Crohn's Disease
Jennifer Robinson, MD
Crohn's disease can get in the way of everyday activities, but you can overcome most of the challenges. Use these tactics to smooth out issues at home, at work, and in your relationships.
Educate your family. Tell 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 people who have Crohn's.
Let them know which foods are easy for you to eat and which ones, if any, cause problems.
Bring someone with you 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 help. Let your family pitch in 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. It's up to you 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. If you have concerns, share them. 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, who founded 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.