Being diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis) can upend your entire life. Then being diagnosed with a rare liver disease on top of that? It could truly break you down and leave you feeling hopeless. But that’s not what happened to Jenna Ziegler of The Comical Colon. Not long after her ulcerative colitis diagnosis, her doctor was concerned about her liver test levels. With more testing and a lot of patient empowerment, Jenna now has a presumed diagnosis of primary sclerosing cholangitis, or PSC. She tells how she has fought to get the tests she needed to understand her level of risk, and the treatment that can help prevent PSC from progressing and causing more damage to her liver.Continue reading
Do you have a sense of humor about your IBD? Jenna Ziegler of The Comical Colon found that keeping her sense of humor has helped her through the challenges she faced after being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in college. After fighting her way back to health after severe flare-ups and carving out the life she wanted for herself, Jenna received another stunning diagnosis: a rare liver condition called primary sclerosing cholangitis, or PSC. Over the years she has done the hard work to learn how to be an empowered patient and she shares her 5 tips on how you can learn to advocate for yourself.Continue reading
People with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, or indeterminate colitis) are understandably concerned about the novel coronavirus, and the disease it causes, COVID-19, spreading in their community. People who have certain medical conditions and/or are receiving immunosuppressive medications may be at a greater risk of complications for COVID-19. There are some guidelines put out specifically for people with IBD that can help in making decisions during this time. On this page you will find trusted and verifiable resources that help you as you make choices regarding travel, medications, and everyday life during the pandemic.Continue reading
Most people may not immediately make a connection between inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and sleep, but the two are intertwined. IBD affects the entire body and that includes the ability to achieve restful sleep. Living with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis can significantly affect the quality and quantity of a person’s sleep, even when the disease is well-controlled.
Quality, restorative sleep is important to long-term health. However, most people don’t get enough. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) consider the low quality and lack of restorative sleep among adults in the United States to be a public health epidemic. This makes sense when you think about it, because fatigue affects every aspect of a person’s life. A lack of sleep is associated with many common chronic conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure, and depression.Continue reading
People who live with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis have more to consider when it comes to the workplace. The cost of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) means that a comprehensive insurance plan is a must, which may limit job choices. A flare-up or complication that results in absences can lead to poor performance reviews or difficulties with supervisors or co-workers. How can people with IBD cope? Three women who live with IBD, Megan Starshak, Mary Elizabeth Ulliman, and Tina Aswani Omprakash, tell their stories about missing work, being underinsured, and changing jobs while managing IBD.Continue reading
How does having Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis have an impact on your career? The symptoms of IBD, as well as the cost, can affect the ability to work in the same way as healthy people. Three women who live with IBD, Megan Starshak, Mary Elizabeth Ulliman, and Tina Aswani Omprakash, tell their stories about coping with college, first jobs, and career derailment as a result of their disease.Continue reading
In December 2019 I went to Advances in IBD, which is a medical meeting that’s focused entirely on Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. The understanding that IBD is more than a “bathroom disease” has finally hit home, and attendees (which include healthcare professionals such as nurses, dietitians, gastroenterologists, GI psychologists, and colorectal surgeons) were educated on a variety of topics. In this episode I provide some of the highlights of the meeting including sessions on diet, medication risks, and pregnancy.Continue reading
People who live with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) often have questions about what should and shouldn’t be included in a diet plan. There’s not one single diet for every person with IBD, which presents challenges for patients. Diet is difficult to study because there are so many variables. While more data and research on diet is clearly needed, there are some general guidelines that health care professionals can offer their patients.Continue reading
With the turn of every new year, there’s a predictable pattern. People start making their New Year’s Resolutions and plan to begin their new activities (or stop the old ones) at the turn of the year on January 1st. Many of the resolutions center around losing weight, eating better, stopping smoking, or exercising more. However, are these the things that people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are most concerned with? Better health for those that live with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis might include resolutions that go beyond the focus of what healthy people consider at the start of a new year. I have some suggestions for those that live with IBD who are looking to make resolutions for themselves this year.Continue reading
One of the presentations I attended at Advances in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (AIBD) in Orlando, Florida in December 2019 was regarding the use of 5-aminosalicylic acid (5-ASA) drugs in IBD. The talk, “Don’t Forget that 5-ASAs Also Have Side Effects: Recognizing Complications” was given by Meenakshi Bewtra, MD, MPH, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.
On the face of it, this appeared to be a straightforward presentation on the adverse effects (side effects) of these medications which are used to treat ulcerative colitis. However, there was an unexpected twist!Continue reading