Life with Crohn’s can be stressful. With its unpredictable and unpleasant symptoms, there may be times when you feel as though the disease controls your life.
But there are a lot of ways you can get a handle on the condition and put yourself back in charge.
Stick With Treatment
It’s important to treat your Crohn’s to try to control your symptoms. Many medications offer a good shot at managing the condition. When you find the type and dose that works for you, it’s possible it can make your Crohn’s inactive, or go into remission, and help it stay that way as much as possible.
Also, keep up an ongoing conversation with your doctor about your treatment and how you’re feeling. Crohn’s affects everyone differently, so make sure your doctor knows what’s going on with your symptoms and flares. If you don’t like the side effects of your medications, or if you’re having trouble going out in public, make sure she knows. She can work with you to change your treatment or offer other ways to improve everyday life with Crohn’s.
The more you know about the disease and your treatment and the better your partnership with your doctor, the more in control you will feel.
A little preparation can help you feel ready to handle sudden attacks of your symptoms when you’re out. Learn where the bathrooms are in places that you visit often, including public transportation like buses or trains.
Keep a Crohn’s kit in your car, in your bag, at work, or other places you spend a lot of time. It should include:
- Toilet paper
- Baby wipes
- Fresh underwear and clothing
- Gloves and large, sealable plastic bags to handle and store soiled clothes
- Hand sanitizer
Sometimes stores, restaurants, and places like gas stations only let paying customers use their bathrooms. Carry identification to give to them. The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation offers a restroom request card called “I Can’t Wait.”
If you are flying, check the Transportation Security Administration’s website for information about traveling with a medical condition. Bring your medications with you in your carry-on luggage.
Let Others Know
Crohn’s can be a stressor on your social life. You may feel bad about having to miss out on events, or worry about whether to tell others about your condition. But sharing your diagnosis with a few trusted people can help you ease some of those worries.
Friends who know you’re sick can offer support, and they’ll understand when you have to back out of activities at the last minute or if you just aren’t feeling up to going out. They can also help you plan ways to stay social without having to go out if you’re not feeling comfortable.
Who you tell is up to you, as well as how much to tell them about your condition. But support and honest communication with others can take some of the stress out of living with Crohn’s.
Stress doesn’t cause Crohn’s disease, but it can bring on attacks, or flares, of your symptoms. No one can completely prevent stress, but some simple ways to feel calmer can give you some control over your condition.
There are many ways to manage stress, and what works is different for everyone. You may have to try a couple of different ways to see what clicks for you. You might try:
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. A Crohn’s support group can help by reassuring you that you aren’t alone, and other people with the condition may have tips or tricks to share with you. They may also give you ideas about treatments that you can talk to your doctor about. Taking your family and loved ones to a session can help them understand the challenges you face.
Talking to a counselor or therapist can help you get some perspective and learn new ways of managing your feelings about Crohn’s. Your doctor can point you to one who specializes in helping people with chronic diseases.