Chances are your inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is under good control thanks to effective medicine. But even if you're in remission from Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis, you may fear having sudden cramps or worse when you're out and about. The good news: You don't have to give up your social life.
People who've been there share their advice:
Crohn's makes it harder to nourish yourself. This can make you feel run-down and sick. And it can keep your medication from working well. It can stop kids from growing normally, too.
You may not get enough nutrients because:
Your gut is inflamed or damaged. It's hard to absorb carbohydrates, fats, water, and many vitamins and minerals from food. Surgery for Crohn's can also cause this problem.
You have no desire to eat. This can happen because of pain, diarrhea, anxiety, and changes in taste. As a result, you don't eat enough.
You take Crohn's drugs. Some make it harder to absorb nutrients.
You have bleeding inside your body. This can lead to anemia, which can lower your iron levels.
Nutrients You May Be Missing
With Crohn's, you are more likely to have lower levels of:
Vitamin B12. If you've had surgery in the lower part of your small intestine, you may not absorb enough of this. You can get a B12 vitamin, injection, or nasal spray.
Folic acid. Some Crohn's drugs, like methotrexate and sulfasalazine, lower levels of folic acid in your body. Try a daily 1-milligram dose of a folate supplement.
Calcium. Steroids for Crohn's disease can weaken bones and make it hard to absorb this key mineral. If your body can't digest milk or milk products, you're even more likely to be short on calcium. Up to half of people with Crohn's have thinning bones. Taking extra supplements -- often 1,500 milligrams of calcium a day -- will help keep bones strong and prevent other problems.
Vitamin D. It helps your body absorb calcium for strong bones, but people with Crohn's disease often don’t have enough. Your doctor may suggest an 800-IU daily supplement.
Vitamins A, E, and K. Surgery can make it hard for your body to absorb fats. That lowers your levels of these vitamins.
Iron. It's the best treatment for anemia from blood loss in your intestines. Your doctor may tell you to take iron tablets, liquid, or infusions.
Potassium, magnesium, and zinc. Your doctor may suggest a daily supplement to raise your levels.