Digestive Disorders and Your Job
Put Your Health First
Sometimes when people feel good, they think they don’t need their meds anymore.
“But you’re feeling good because you’re taking medication,” Kozuch says.
Flares can still happen, but if the drugs helped you get to remission, they’ll probably help you stay there, he says.
It's important to practice good habits, too.
“Get enough sleep, don’t smoke, make sure you eat right, and try to manage your disease long-term, every day, instead of waiting for the next flare,” Korzenik says.
Regular visits with your health care team can help you avoid complications that can drag you down. People with inflammatory bowel disease can get depression and anxiety. Both should be treated, even if they’re because of your digestive problems.
“The tendency is to say that someone wouldn’t be depressed if they didn’t have IBD, so let’s get the IBD taken care of,” Kozuch says. “But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t treat depression or anxiety.”
Something else to keep an eye on is stress.
“Work is stressful, even in the healthiest person," says Dana J. Lukin, MD, PhD, director of the Einstein-Montefiore Program for Inflammatory Bowel Diseases.
Pile on IBD, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. But you've got ways to release some pressure.
Lukin says you could do things like:
- Listen to music.
- Talk with friends.
- Join a support group for people with inflammatory bowel disease.
Just find whatever works for you.
“Remember that stressful situations can make IBD symptoms worse, so finding an outlet for your stress can play a large role in maintaining balance,” Lukin says.
Starshak can vouch for that, and she says it’s a cycle for her.
“Exercising and staying active helps me stay in remission. And because I am in remission, I can exercise and stay active, like running, doing yoga, and riding my bike.”
She also says her outlook is crucial for her.
“Jobs are important, but if I’m getting overwhelmed and feeling stressed, I will step back, slow down, and take things one at a time. I’ll remind myself not to put myself in a flare.”