Tips for Sleeping with IBD

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Sleep is incredibly beneficial for your overall health, and teenagers should get between eight and ten hours of sleep per night to stay healthy. IBD can be exhausting at times, and you should try to get as much sleep as you can. Here are some tips to help you get all the sleep you need.

 

  1. Exercise

Exercise helps to tire out your body. If you exercise during the day, you will be able to fall asleep faster and sleep more deeply.

 

  1. Set a schedule

Try to wake up at roughly the same time each day, and set a bed time too. Although you may not be able to follow a perfect schedule every day, even doing this most of the time can improve your sleep cycle.

 

  1. Quiet your mind

Do some relaxing exercises before bed, such as stretching, meditating, or reading. This will help to calm your mind before you sleep.

 

  1. Avoid technology

Avoid screens before bedtime because the light they emit can keep you up at night. If you need to do work on your phone or computer before bed, use the apps and native features available to adjust on-screen lighting levels. Activate Night Shift if you have an iPhone, or download an app like f.lux for your Android phone or computer that changes the lighting to a level that doesn’t keep you awake.

 

  1. Track your sleep

Write down when you went to bed and when you woke up to find patterns in your sleep schedule that may be off. Also, note whether any symptoms woke you up in the middle of the night. Let your doctor know if this happens often.

 

  1. Food and Water Consumption

Make sure that you are hydrated before bed but not so much that you will need to get up during the night. Additionally, make sure that you are not eating too close to when you fall asleep. Avoid any caffeinated beverages and make sure that the foods you are eating do not contain caffeine (e.g., chocolate).

 

These strategies allow me to get a good night’s sleep almost every night. By adding these to your schedule, you should see a vast improvement in your sleep schedule. However, if you think you suffer from a sleeping problem, contact your doctor, especially if you think it may be caused by your IBD. I hope these tips help you to sleep well!

 


Best Blogs for IBD

Screen Shot 2018-11-10 at 11.55.41 AMThese days, many people blog about their personal experiences, and blogs about IBD, IBS, and other autoimmune disorders are common. While they all have something to offer, I would like to highlight six blogs that helped me when I was struggling after being diagnosed.

 

  1. Girl in Healing

This blog is great for general tips about how to take care of yourself if you have IBD, specifically if you have Crohn’s disease.

https://girlinhealing.com/

 

  1. Colitis Ninja

This blog showed me that I’m not alone and that IBD isn’t a weakness. Reading the blogger’s posts gave me a much-needed confidence boost.

http://colitisninja.com/

 

  1. Heal Me in the Kitchen

As someone who has had to follow a strict diet for years, it’s nice to know I’m in good company. This blog is full of great ideas about cooking for a paleo diet.

http://www.healmeinthekitchen.com/p/httpsstatic.html

 

  1. Ali on the Run

Through her blog, Ali shows that you can be an athlete even when you’re dealing with IBD. Her blog is extremely inspirational, and it will show you that anything is possible.

http://www.aliontherunblog.com/

 

  1. Lights Camera Crohn’s

This blog is also great for general tips and for understanding someone else’s personal experience with the disease.

Home

 

  1. It Could Be Worse

True to its lighthearted title, this blog has helped me to stay positiveeven during difficult times.

Published Work

 

I followed these blogs when I was first diagnosed, and I still keep up with some of them now. They are informative and inspirational, and, most importantly, they let me know I am not alone. I hope these blog recommendations will help you as much as they helped me


Natural Help or Medication

When it comes to IBD, natural remedies versus medication is a complicated but interesting topic. Both have been effective for members of my family. I have ulcerative colitis and my uncle has Crohn’s disease, and we handled our diseases in completely different ways. I am in remission because of medication and a healthy diet, and my uncle is in remission because of fitness and a healthy diet.

My uncle had difficulty accepting his diagnosis, and he refused to take medication. However, he still had serious symptoms. He discovered that running eases his symptoms. In fact, running helped him so much that he has been in remission for more than twenty years. By running marathons and maintaining a healthy diet, he has avoided flare-ups.

I, on the other hand, began taking medication as soon as I received my diagnosis. I have taken multiple different medications, some of which have been more effective than others. Eventually, I found that Humira and a modified version of the paleo diet work best for me.

It may be confusing that my uncle and I took vastly different routes to achieving remission, and it may seem that there are no real solutions to IBD and that treatment is just a guessing game. But this is actually great, as it means you can achieve remission in different ways. Everyone’s body responds in a distinctive way, and what works for one person may not work for another. Therefore, there will always be hope for remission because there is a “cure” for each person out there.

If you are still experiencing a flare-up, you just haven’t found the right medications, routines, diet, and so on. Achieving remission is difficult, but you will one day find the best strategy for you.

 

If you are confused as to how to use natural remedies to treat IBD, here is an article that may help you: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/317744.php

 


My Humira Experience (pt. 2)

I previously published a post about my experience with the immunosuppressant drug Humira, and I felt it was time for an update. So far, Humira has worked well for me. I have had limited symptoms since I began taking it. Although I have had abdominal pain a few times, I believe it was caused by the food I had eaten.

Administering the drug is still incredibly painful. I prefer having the shot in my thigh, because getting a shot in my stomach terrifies me. I would like to say I’ve become used to the pain of the shot, but I haven’t, and I have yet to give myself the shot. I’m afraid my hand will shake while I’m doing it. However, I plan to change this on my next shot. I know when I go to college I’ll have to do it myself, so I need to start eventually.

Thankfully, the shot only takes about ten seconds and then it’s over. Afterwards, I always feel a little dizzy and out of it for a few minutes. Sometimes, I feel run-down for a few days following the shot; other times, I’m full of energy, and I can even exercise the next day. My experiences after the shot have varied, which makes me nervous because I never know exactly what’s going to happen.

Humira definitely works better for me than Remicade did. I think using Humira is a much easier process, although it must be taken every two weeks instead of every seven. Remicade took up too much time, and it was impossible to insert an IV line due to my small veins. The process would take about eight or ten hours from start to finish, and I always felt worn out for days following the treatment. Although Remicade helped me achieve remission, I don’t think it’s easy to use with a busy lifestyle. I’m much happier with Humira, despite the pain factor. That being said, Remicade was painful too because of the IV issue.

So far, I’m doing well on Humira, and I’m delighted that I changed to this drug. I highly recommend it for anyone suffering from severe ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. Let me know in the comments if you’re taking Humira and what your experiences have been with the drug.  

 


How Stress Affects IBD

Stress can have a major effect on one’s physical health. While stress is commonly associated with headaches and acne, it also has significant effects on ulcerative colitis. According to the journal Gastroenterology Research, exposure to extreme stress can cause a fivefold increase in one’s risk of relapse. Researchers also found that stress, bad mood, and significant life events are correlated to IBD flare-ups. In a study published in Gastroenterology Research and Practice, researchers found that psychological stress can lead to an increase in the permeability of the intestines, which causes symptoms such as a leaky bowel. They also found that stress affects the immune system, which can disrupt neurotransmitters and hormones. Additionally, IBD can increase stress through constant worry about symptoms and medication management.

Several stress-management techniques can help people with IBD avoid stress-related negative effects on mental and physical health. These are some of the techniques I have found useful:

 

  • Meditation

I use the Calm app, which talks the user through the meditation practice. It has different sets for different types of meditation.

  • Stretching

Stretching helps to relax muscles and promotes calmness.

  • Sleeping

Getting enough sleep is crucial for managing stress levels.

  • Exercise

Exercise releases endorphins, which can increase happiness and lower stress levels.

  • Finding Someone to Talk To

Whether it be a parent, a sibling, a friend, or a teacher, find someone to talk to about your stress. Sometimes, venting can help you realize that you don’t have much to be stressed about.

  • Self-Care

Taking a break to read a book or listen to music can significantly lower stress levels.

 

I hope that these tips help you to handle stress a little bit better. It is important to keep your stress level as low as possible when suffering from IBD. Let me know in the comments what you do to combat stress.

 


How to Help Others with IBD

Whether you have IBD or you know someone IBD, there are several ways to help people who are having a tough time with their disease.

The first is very simple: Just be with them and support them; let them know you’re there for them. When I was in hospital, I received many messages and gifts from friends and family. This helped me to stay positive, and it was nice to know that people were thinking of me and hoping I would get better.

If you want to help on a bigger scale, become involved with the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, which raises money to help people suffering from IBD. You can donate, or you can take part in fundraising events. By volunteering with the foundation, you can help many people around the world.

Volunteering at your local hospital is also a great way to help people with IBD. Patients don’t see many people besides their families and the staff, so seeing a friendly face is always nice. You can visit and play with younger children, or you can talk to older kids, young adults, and older people who have IBD.

When I was first diagnosed with IBD, my friends didn’t know what they could do to help when I was experiencing a flare-up. They found these ideas very helpful. By being a good friend and listener, donating if you can, and volunteering with a foundation or local hospital, you can help others with IBD.

I also did some research and found great articles and information on how to help others. This blog post gives specific information for caregivers. This information set also explains how to support someone with IBD. Lastly, this article gives a few easy tips on how to handle being around someone with IBD. 

 


Flying with IBD

 

If you have IBD, you may be concerned about traveling long distances by plane. Even though you may be worried and feel that it’s impossible for you to travel, there are ways for you to prepare for long journeys.  

 

Medication

  • Make sure to bring an adequate amount of medication to last for the entire trip, as you don’t want to end up without any medication.  
  • Bring your prescription forms just in case you do run out of your medication, so you can get it refilled as soon as possible.  
  • Keep your medication close by, preferably in whatever bag you may be holding. Do not keep it in a checked bag if you are traveling- your luggage may get lost. 
  • Take over-the-counter medications with you to help manage milder symptoms. 

 

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  • Keep some form of your medical history with you while traveling. 
  • Keep your doctor’s phone number saved in your phone for emergencies. 
  • Keep your insurance card with you at all times. 

 

 

Booking and Preparing  

  • When booking your flight, try and find a seat available in the aisle and close to a bathroom. 
  • Book a specific meal plan for your flight ahead of time, so you can eat on the plane. 
  • Bring snacks that are appropriate for your specific diet needs. It’s better to bring them from home than it is to buy them at the airport. 
  • Buy a water as soon as you arrive at the airport, so you don’t become dehydrated on the flight.  

 

 

Asking Questions  

  • See if you can find a map of the airport or ask an employee where all of the bathrooms are located. 
  • There are cards available that allow you to skip the line in the bathroom if you let the airport know ahead of time. 
  • Ask if you can upgrade your seat to a more comfortable area if possible. 

 

Being Safe 

  • Get all of your vaccinations ahead of time, especially if you are leaving the country. 
  • Don’t travel if you feel like you are getting sick. It could make your symptoms worse. 
  • Be careful with eating. Airport food is not always the freshest or the healthiest, and it could potentially harm your digestive system.  
  • Get travel insurance to cover your IBD problems if possible. Make sure that you are fully covered before flying.  

 

It is fairly easy to fly with IBD after you do it a few times.  Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask the employees’ questions if necessary. Don’t let yourself suffer in silence. Traveling is meant to be fun not to feel like torture.  

 


Handling a School Workload

The workload in high school is often difficult to handle.  But when you have a chronic disease, that workload can feel almost impossible to keep up with. You may feel too tired to stay up to complete your homework or to even stay awake in class. These issues can be detrimental to your happiness and your GPA. However, by seeking accommodations and by following the tips below, your illness can have less or even no impact on your school workload.

 

Tip #1: Learn about your assignments early.

 

If you truly want to be successful in school, you will need to talk to your teachers and ask them about upcoming assignments before they are even assigned.  Tell your teachers about your situation and explain how knowing about assignments early will help you perform better in their classes. If you receive your assignments early on, you should be able to have plenty of time to complete them.

 

Tip #2: Find out what your best studying times are.

 

Some people are morning people, and some are night owls. Others are somewhere in between. You need to find out when you are the most alert and most capable of working efficiently. If you are your best early in the morning, then you will have to wake up early and start working. If you’re most efficient at night, then you’ll have to stay up late to complete assignments. You won’t be able to work properly if you are trying to work when you are tired or not feeling attentive.

 

Tip #3: Stay on top of deadlines.

 

If your teacher gives you a deadline, write it down immediately. Start working in little blocks of time so you don’t end up having to complete the entire assignment at once. It will save you from experiencing excess stress.

 

Tip #4: Keep organized.

 

When you have IBD, your symptoms can make your life feel hectic.  You don’t want your school work to feel hectic as well. Try getting binders for each class, color-coding your notes, getting a planner- whatever you need to do to feel organized and ready to work.

 

Tip #5: Tell your teachers about how you’re feeling.

 

If you have accommodations, you shouldn’t need to talk to your teachers, but if you don’t have accommodations, you should definitely tell your teachers about your disease and ask them if they can help you feel less stressed. They should be understanding of your situation considering you have a painful disease preventing you from completing work. They could potentially adjust assignments for you so you don’t feel overwhelmed by the workload.

 

These 5 tips can both lower your stress level and save your GPA. Maintaining a high school workload while suffering from IBD can be a challenge, but it can be done. You just have to make sure you apply yourself correctly and ask for help if necessary.

 

 

 


Explaining Ulcerative Colitis to Your Friends

Explaining to your friends what ulcerative colitis (UC) is, why you have it, and how it affects you can be difficult. UC can make you want to hide from everyone in the world, but that isn’t a realistic solution. At some point, you will have to open up to people about your disease. Doing so won’t be easy, but it definitely isn’t as hard as you think. 

The first people you may want to inform are your closest friends. You don’t want to have to hide your disease from the people that you love and trust the most. Because they are your closest friends, they will most likely be understanding and caring about the issue. They won’t bother you about it unnecessarily, and instead they will try to keep it in mind and make sure you are feeling okay. The more open and honest you are, the more easily they will comprehend your disease and the more likely they’ll be empathetic.  

In the case of telling friends that are not extremely close to you, the best course is often to tell them what you suffer from without going into too much detail. You can tell them what UC is and what the major problems are, but you don’t have to tell them everything if you are not comfortable doing so. If they ask you about your experience, be honest, but don’t feel like you have to open up completely. You should never feel obligated to tell someone about your UC if you don’t want to. 

When dealing with acquaintances, you should probably be more vague and general. Acquaintances don’t really need to know much about your UC if they don’t know you that well, and you probably don’t want to tell them much. Personally, I have always preferred to use the terms “stomach thing” or “autoimmune thing” to describe it to these people. When you say something like that, people tend to understand you don’t really want to go into detail. 

These tips may make explaining UC sound easy, but talking about your experiences with this disease is certainly not easy by any means. I do hope, however, that these tips can get you started on opening up to people. UC probably feels a little embarrassing to you, but others don’t tend to view it that way. They want to help and to understand you better. Most people will not judge you for having a disease you cannot control. Try your best to be honest, but if you aren’t comfortable, do not feel forced to say more than what’s necessary. 

 


How to Eat Out on the SCD or Paleo Diet

If you’re on the SCD diet or the Paleo diet, understanding how to order off a menu at a restaurant can be very difficult. I know that I struggled to find things to eat when I was first on the SCD diet.

The SCD diet is limited to only grain-free, sugar-free, starch-free, and unprocessed foods. The Paleo diet, on the other hand, is based on the idea that humans were meant to eat a certain way – like they did when they were cavemen. The Paleo diet consists of meat, fish, vegetables, and fruit. Dairy (optional), grain, and processed foods are not allowed. These diets are good for people in general, but especially for patients suffering from IBD.

The SCD diet was actually created to treat Ulcerative Colitis. The idea was that the healthy foods would starve out the bad bacteria in the colon. This diet can also be used to treat Crohn’s.

Because the diets are highly restrictive, finding something to order off of a menu without going off the diet can feel impossible. But with time and practice, learning how to read menus with these diets in mind, the process eventually gets much easier.

Here are some tips to help you get started:

 

1) Always look for the protein first.

 

The main part of your meal will most likely be some type of protein. Looking for proteins such as fish, beef, or chicken that are grilled, sautéed, or blackened is key. Make sure to check whether the meat is breaded or not. If the menu doesn’t specify, you can look online to see whether the type of food you’re looking at is normally breaded. And if you’re still unsure, you can always ask your waiter. He or she is there to help you get the meal you want.

 

2) Be wary of carbs.

 

Make sure the carbs you are ordering don’t contain bread or anything that you know is super sweet. If the selection is sweet, chances are it contains sugar. I have added many foods to my diet over the years, and I rely on potatoes, sweet potatoes, and plantains for carbs at restaurants.

 

3) Extra veggies!

 

If you don’t think you can get any carbs because the menu is limited, always ask for extra vegetables. Filling up your plate helps ensure you actually have some substance to your meal.

 

4) You can get dessert.

 

Most desserts at restaurants tend to be cake or ice cream, and, at first, I felt sad because I have a sweet tooth. I felt as though I couldn’t enjoy sweets at restaurants anymore. Recently, I’ve learned this is not true. At most restaurants, you can get berries and cream. I know this isn’t the equivalent of a chocolate cake, but it’s definitely better than nothing.

 

5) Never be afraid to ask the waiter.

 

Waiters are there to help you. Don’t be afraid to ask a question about a certain item of food – or even to tell them about your diet. They can talk to the chef and get you a meal that is safe and delicious.

 

6) Do your best!

 

We all make mistakes sometimes, and accidentally ordering something that doesn’t fit our diets isn’t the end of the world. Make your best guesses and don’t give up.

 

I hope I helped give some insight into how you can order food at a restaurant and maintain an SCD or Paleo diet. Eating at restaurants won’t be easy, but with these tips, I hope you discover that doing so is definitely possible.