Living with IBD

Support for New Orleans patients with digestive health concerns

At University Medical Center New Orleans, we understand the difficulty that comes with living with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). The best way to keep your condition under control independently is to practice the habits necessary to reduce inflammation and keep pain levels low. Below are some helpful tips about how to prevent excessive stress to your digestive system.

Healthy diet

While research hasn’t found any link between diet and the onset or remission of Inflammatory Bowel Disease, those with IBD should avoid certain foods that can exacerbate symptoms, especially during flares. It can be helpful to keep a food diary to help determine which foods exacerbate your symptoms.

Patients with Crohn’s disease can have difficulty with diary, fatty foods, and foods high in fiber due to inflammation and/or narrowing in the small bowel. Many patients find it helpful to visit with a dietician.

Reduce stress as much as possible

No research has yet found stress to cause Inflammatory Bowel Disease, though many patients report that stress exacerbates their Inflammatory Bowel Disease symptoms. Managing stress can improve your overall wellbeing. Your doctor can refer you to a specialist that can help manage your stress.

Regular exercise

Daily exercise can help manage stress, decrease depression, and help normalize bowel function.

Stop smoking

Smoking is a risk factor for Crohn’s disease and is protective for ulcerative colitis. Smoking exacerbates Crohn’s disease and will result in needing more medications and surgeries. The overall harm of smoking outweighs the benefits of smoking in ulcerative colitis. Patients who are smoking should be referred to a smoking cessation counselor.

Support for IBD patients

Every Inflammatory Bowel Disease patient needs support to be physically and emotionally healthy.

Some ways to do this include:

  • Educate yourself – educate yourself about Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Understanding your Inflammatory Bowel Disease will help you manage your disease. Use websites such as Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA.org) and You and IBD (youandibd.com). Try not to get overwhelmed with all the information on the web. Write down questions and ask your doctor.
  • Talk to a therapist – many Inflammatory Bowel Disease patients benefit from talking with a therapist that specializes in gastrointestinal diseases. Ask your doctor for a referral.
  • Join a support group – a support group can be a great resource to bring together patients facing the challenges of Inflammatory Bowel Disease. The right resources and support can make day-to-day living easier.