Daily Life With Crohn’s Disease

The best way to deal with Crohn’s disease is to seek an effective treatment plan. Additionally, it is helpful to maintain a hopeful outlook, healthy lifestyle, and a strong support network—and to strive for leading a full and productive life. Keeping up with the latest information about your condition and making sure you get the best care possible can also help in managing your disease.

The relationship between Crohn’s disease and stress

Many people feel stress from time to time, but there’s no proof that stress itself causes Crohn’s disease. However, emotional stress can influence your symptoms. Here are some tips that may help you manage your stress levels:

Exercise more

Consider yoga or meditation

Seek out counseling

Join a support group

Managing the stress of IBD

Brandi Chastain, world-renowned soccer player and IBD caregiver, talks to IBD psychiatrist Dr. Eva Szigethy about managing the stress associated with IBD.

Eva Szigethy, Ph.D., M.D., M.S., is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Medicine and Pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. She specializes in the psychological impact of chronic digestive diseases.

Explaining Crohn’s disease

Having a chronic disease means that you may have chronic symptoms—and may have to deal with some aspect of your condition frequently. That’s why it’s beneficial for friends and family members to understand Crohn’s disease and what you’re going through, since it will be helpful to have their support. Similarly, depending on your situation, you might want to be mindful about informing your co-workers, classmates, and supervisors or teachers of what having Crohn’s can be like, so they can prepare to be flexible in case you have to stay home. You might also want to be mindful about letting teachers and supervisors know what your rights are as someone with a chronic disease.

When you register for the Crohn’s & Colitis Advocate Program, you are assigned your own personal advocate who can provide you with educational information and resources. Learn more about free support and one-to-one education.

Being open about your needs up front is important so that others will know what to expect if your symptoms flare up.

Here are a few things you can do that can make explaining Crohn’s disease and advocating for yourself easier:

  • Learn about the disease. In order to explain the basics of Crohn’s disease and how it can affect you, you need to know about Crohn’s yourself.
  • Have information handy. You may want to give a teacher, colleague, or even a friend or family member Crohnʼs Disease 101 or other printed material, or refer them here to do some of the explaining for you.
  • Understand your rights. There may be means to access reasonable accommodations at school and at work through laws such as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. It may be helpful to explore these means about guidelines and eligibility requirements for potential services and accommodations.

Managing social situations

Brandi Chastain, world-renowned soccer player and IBD caregiver, talks to psychiatrist Dr. Eva Szigethy about managing social situations when you have IBD.

Eva Szigethy, Ph.D., M.D., M.S., is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Medicine and Pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. She specializes in the psychological impact of chronic digestive diseases.

Socializing with Crohn’s disease

The possibility of a Crohn’s disease flare may keep some people from enjoying an active social life, but planning social situations ahead of time can help you feel more comfortable going out.

  • Knowing what to expect wherever you go (e.g., whether you have access to a bathroom if you need one, or whether taking a change of clothes makes sense) should be part of your routine.
  • Alcohol, smoking, and drugs affect each person with Crohn’s disease differently. But they may pose health risks to your GI tract and liver and affect your medications. You should ask your doctor for more information.
  • You may have questions about navigating relationships when you have Crohn’s disease. As you may know, being honest about your disease with your friends and partner is important—and so is your comfort level when talking about it. To find more information on dating and relationships, see the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America’s resources.

Traveling with Crohn’s disease

Doing some research and planning ahead of time can help make trips go more smoothly. Here are a few pointers:

  • Talk to your healthcare team about your travel plans. They may be able to offer advice and information about any necessary precautions or immunizations.
  • Research your destination as much as possible so you know what to expect. Besides finding out about activities, places to stay, and what the local cuisine is like, you might want to find out about nearby restrooms, when pharmacies are open, and if water is safe to drink.
  • Take along your healthcare team’s contact information and copies of insurance cards.

If you have an ostomy bag, make sure you tell TSA personnel before you go through security. Check out the TSA’s page for people with medical conditions, and choose “External Medical Devices” from their drop-down menu.

  • Remember to bring along enough medication—preferably in its original packaging, as well as extra tissues and supplies you may need. Make sure the sizes of liquids can go through security.
  • Your diet when you travel should ideally be as close as possible to your diet at home. Bring along dry, packable foods and follow the same precautions when eating out as you would when not traveling.

Crohn’s Diet Information

Learn about the importance of proper nutrition and more.

Crohn’s Nutrition and Exercise

How Your Medication Works

Take a look at the different kinds of treatments and what they do.

Review Crohn’s Treatments

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