Life with IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) is not easy. For the approximately 70,000 people who are diagnosed with IBD each year, it can be overwhelming to hear that you have a chronic condition. The disease is complicated because no two cases are alike, and no two treatments are alike. But with education and certain lifestyle changes, it is possible to feel “normal” again.
Take your medications as prescribed. If you feel better, don’t stop taking the medication. This just means it is working. Talk with your doctor if you want to reassess your meds. Also, be sure to avoid medicines that are known to cause flare-ups, like ibuprofen, and naproxen. Also, some anti-diarrhea medicines can be helpful, but others may make your symptoms worse. Talk to your doctor about what he/she recommends you take.
If you can give up alcohol, it certainly won’t hurt. If you do drink, notice how you feel after drinking and decide if it is worth it to you. Some IBD patients can’t tolerate any alcohol, others can tolerate 1-2 drinks only. Recognizing and avoiding what causes your flare-ups is more than half the battle.
If you have IBD, chances are you’ve already done so much research about trigger foods that you could become a certified nutritionist. But just because one food is not tolerated well by some (or even most) IBD patients, does not mean that you will have the same reaction. The only way to know for sure is to experiment. Try introducing or removing one food group a week and watch for reactions. Having a food journal to record your food experiments will help. Always do this in consultation with your doctor as eliminating certain food groups can leave you nutritionally deficient and be dangerous to your health. Most importantly, don’t starve yourself because you are afraid of the aftereffects. With time and trial and error, you will find what works for you. Another food factor to consider is food quantity. Some IBD patients find that eating smaller, more frequent meals helps with their symptoms.
Living with IBD is not easy at first. But as you get to know your body better and don’t stray from what works for you, it is completely manageable. Together, all these small improvements will add up to make a big impact on you overall comfort and wellbeing.
Weekly Health Tips are brought to you by UCF Health, the College of Medicine’s physician practice. Offering primary and specialty care under one roof, UCF Health treats patients age 16 and up in primary care and age 18 and up for specialty care. Most major insurance plans are accepted. Two locations are now open: the original in East Orlando at Quadrangle and University boulevards just blocks from the main UCF campus, and the newest one in Medical City at Narcoossee Road and Tavistock Lakes Boulevard. Information for both facilities can be found at UCFHealth.com, or call (407) 266-DOCS to schedule an appointment.
- Dr. Su gastroenterology IBD