The personal side of IBD

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a serious condition that affects over 270,000 Canadians. Symptoms include stomach tenderness and swelling, constipation or diarrhea, weight loss, and rectal bleeding. But a list of symptoms doesn't tell the whole story. What's it really like to have IBD? Read Sharon's story to find out.

Sharon* is a 29-year-old human resources manager. At the age of 22 she was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis (UC), a form of IBD. Her symptoms started when she was in college. The first time she had the stomach cramps and bloody diarrhea, she thought she had a bad case of food poisoning. After a few more flare-ups and visits to several different doctors, Sharon finally found the cause for her symptoms: UC.

For Sharon, the worst part of having UC was the unpredictability. She never knew when an attack might strike, forcing her to run for the bathroom. Because of this, she wouldn't go anywhere without checking to make sure there would be a bathroom nearby. This made it hard for her to have a normal social life, and she began to withdraw from her friends and family. Because she felt self-conscious about her symptoms, she stayed away from dating.

Over the next few years, Sharon's UC symptoms got worse. She was hospitalized several times with abdominal pain and bloody diarrhea. Around age 27, Sharon reached an all-time low point; she had lost 40 pounds and had to take a leave of absence from work due to her severe symptoms. She couldn't do the things she enjoyed and her social life was non-existent. Plus, she became depressed because she felt that she would have to live with her symptoms for the rest of her life.

But then things turned around for Sharon. After trying several different medications, Sharon and her doctor decided on surgery to remove her colon and rectum. This surgery can cure UC, but it is usually reserved for severe cases like Sharon's. For about three months after the surgery, Sharon had to wear a bag outside her body to collect her solid waste. Then she had a second operation to allow her to have normal bowel movements.

Like any other surgery, Sharon's involved a certain level of risk. However, in her case, it was worth it. She found that her quality of life (feeling of well-being) after surgery was much better than before. Her UC symptoms no longer caused her physical and emotional pain, and she started to get back in touch with her friends. Eventually she was back to enjoying life again. In fact, she has even started dating!

What can we learn from Sharon's story? IBD can have a devastating impact on a person's quality of life. People with IBD can become isolated and depressed, and the condition can drastically affect their ability to work and enjoy life. But there are treatments available. If you have IBD or think you might, talk to your doctor about getting a diagnosis and finding a treatment option that is right for you.

*Sharon's story is a hypothetical story based on the combined experiences of patients with IBD.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2021. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/Living-with-IBD

You can control your IBD!

If you have Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis (also called inflammatory bowel disease or IBD), is your condition under control? If your treatment is relieving some of your IBD symptoms, you may want to answer "yes." But it's possible that your IBD is not as well controlled as it could be.

To find out if your condition is really under control, ask yourself if you've had any of the following warning signs:

  • IBD symptoms such as constipation, diarrhea, bloating or abdominal cramps
  • concerns about getting to the toilet in time
  • weight loss (at least 10% of your body weight)
  • changes in eating habits (without a doctor or dietitian's advice)
  • feelings of sadness, frustration, or anger about your IBD
  • difficulty doing your normal activities because of IBD
  • changes in your social life because of IBD
  • changes in your ability to work because of IBD
  • less enjoyment of life because of IBD

If you've noticed any of the warning signs listed above, it's possible that your current treatment is not providing you with the best possible control of your IBD.

But the good news is that you can take control of your IBD! Talk to your gastroenterologist about how your IBD is affecting you. You can use the warning signs listed above as a starting point for the discussion. Your gastroenterologist can help you find a treatment that will provide better control of your IBD.

You should also see your gastroenterologist if:

  • you think you may be having side effects from your IBD medications
  • you're not sure whether your IBD treatment is working

To get the most out of your visit to the doctor, it helps to prepare in advance. Make notes of how your IBD is affecting you, which treatments you have tried, and any questions you may have about your IBD and its treatment.

In order to get the best possible control of your IBD, it's important to know what to expect from treatment. IBD treatment has come a long way in recent years, and there are many treatment options available. Some treat the symptoms of the condition, but newer treatments can control the condition itself and not just the signs and symptoms. If you're wondering whether these newer treatments would be an appropriate option for you, speak with your gastroenterologist.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2021. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/Living-with-IBD

The hidden toll of IBD

IBD, or inflammatory bowel disease, is a life-long condition affecting the bowels and other parts of the body. It can cause attacks of diarrhea, rectal bleeding, abdominal pain and cramps, loss of appetite, and weight loss. It can also cause other symptoms, such as fatigue, skin rashes, joint pain, and eye inflammation. Symptoms are unpredictable, and attacks may occur at any time. By 2030, approximately 1 out of every 100 Canadians is expected to be diagnosed with IBD. There are two forms of IBD: Crohn's disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC).

Life with IBD can be hard to imagine for someone who's never experienced the disease. There's much more to IBD than just diarrhea. Read Martha's story to learn about the life of an IBD sufferer.

Martha,* a 37-year-old interior designer and mother of two, has Crohn's disease (CD), a form of IBD. Since she was diagnosed 6 years ago, her disease has been getting worse. Martha's symptoms come and go. When Martha has a flare-up, she experiences abdominal pain, cramping, and frequent diarrhea. She describes the pain as being "worse than childbirth," and says that during a flare-up she "practically lives in the bathroom" due to the frequent diarrhea.

Martha has lost countless weeks of work to flare-ups over the years. Her work colleagues used to resent her frequent sick days and couldn't understand why she was away so often. They became more supportive after she reached out to them to explain how the disease affects her life.

Martha has also been hospitalized twice during particularly bad flare-ups. But for Martha, the worst part of having CD was the way it took over her life. She let the disease decide where she would go and when, and she lived under the shadow of never knowing when she might have a flare-up.

Over the years, Martha tried several medications for her CD. But it wasn't until she visited a new gastroenterologist last year that she found a treatment that really worked for her. Now her flare-ups are less frequent and her symptoms are easier to live with. Her life is getting "back to the way it was before," and sometimes she is even able to forget that she has CD.

Martha's story can provide some valuable lessons for people with IBD and their friends and family. If you have IBD, or think you might, talk to your doctor or gastroenterologist about your treatment options. Newer medications are now available that can control IBD itself, not just the symptoms. It can be helpful to tell your story to friends, family, and colleagues. The better they understand the condition you're living with, the more they'll be able to help. Use your judgment as a guide to how much detail you're comfortable sharing.

If you know someone with IBD, Martha's story can give you a window onto one person's life with IBD. Understanding what an IBD sufferer is going through will help you offer support and assistance. Don't be afraid to ask the person with IBD for more information about their condition and what you can do to help.

* Martha's story is a hypothetical story based on the combined experiences of patients with Crohn's disease. It is intended to represent one person's experience with Crohn's disease and medication treatment. It is not intended to be representative of all people with Crohn's disease or to provide any endorsements or recommendations regarding Crohn's disease therapy.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2021. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/Living-with-IBD

Finding the right treatment for IBD

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a chronic condition that causes stomach tenderness and swelling, diarrhea, weight loss, and rectal bleeding. The disease can take a major toll on a sufferer's work, family, and social life. But effective treatments are available. Read Mike's story to find out how finding the right treatment can make all the difference.

Mike* is a 50-year-old electrical engineer and father of two. When he was 45 years old, he started having frequent bouts of diarrhea with abdominal pain, fever, and rectal bleeding. Several months later, Mike was diagnosed with Crohn's disease (CD), a type of IBD. 

Mike tried a number of different medications for his Crohn's disease, including corticosteroids, thiopurine and methotrexate.. However, Mike's CD continued to flare up, and seemed to be getting worse. He suffered from frequent, painful attacks of diarrhea and stomach cramps. His symptoms got in the way of his social life and prevented him from spending as much time as he wanted with his children. He also had to scale back on his work schedule. Eventually, Mike began to feel like he was at the end of his rope.

Because conventional CD treatments were not working for Mike, Mike and his gastroenterologist discussed the treatment options available. His gastroenterologist mentioned adalimumab (Humira®), infliximab (Remicade®), and certolizumab (Cimzia®). After the discussion, Mike decided to try infliximab. This medication works by stopping the inflammation that damages the bowel in people with CD. Mike felt relieved that his gastroenterologist told him there will still be other options available even if he doesn't do well on infliximab.

Mike received his treatment at a special infusion clinic, where the medication was given into a vein in his arm (IV infusion). Mike enjoyed the convenience of the treatment, which was given over a few hours every two months. But most importantly, the treatment made Mike feel better than he had in years. It helped bring his CD symptoms back under control. Now Mike is able to enjoy his life and his family again, and has returned to work full-time. Plus, because the treatment is only given every two months, Mike is able to forget that he has CD.

What can we learn from Mike's story? IBD can take a major toll on your life, but it can be successfully treated. There are many treatment options for IBD, but you may need to try several options before you find one that works for you. If you're having trouble finding a treatment that works, don't give up! Talk to your gastroenterologist about whether other treatment options may be available.

*Mike's story is a hypothetical story based on the combined experiences of patients with IBD.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2021. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/Living-with-IBD