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Were you just diagnosed with IBD or have you been living with it for years? In either case, here are 7 important things you should know about your IBD so that you can feel more confident advocating for yourself with your doctors, friends, and family.
1. Learn your disease subtype
The type of IBD you have determines your risks and treatment options.
The type of Crohn’s disease you have is determined by the location of the inflammation and the behavior of the disease. The different type of Crohn’s disease based on disease location include:
- Gastroduodenal Crohn’s disease
- Ileal Crohn’s disease
- Crohn’s colitis
- Perianal Crohn’s disease
The different types of Crohn’s disease based on the behavior of the disease include:
There are several different types of ulcerative colitis which vary based on the location of the inflammation in your colon and rectum:
- Ulcerative proctitis
- Left-sided colitis
There are two types of microscopic colitis including:
- Collagenous colitis
- Lymphocytic colitis
You may have indeterminate colitis if your doctor couldn’t tell which type of IBD you have. There are no subtypes of indeterminate colitis.
2. Learn your disease severity and activity
The severity and activity level of your IBD will help your doctor determine which treatment option is best for you.
- Disease severity - what your disease prognosis is based on how many risk factors you have for a severe disease course
- Disease activity - what your inflammation looks like right now
3. Learn the difference between a flare and active disease
The terms ‘flare’ and ‘active disease’ are sometimes used interchangeably, but they are not the same thing.
- Flare - when you experience an increase in symptoms (this could be with or without inflammation)
- Active disease - inflammation is present according to inflammatory disease markers (fecal calprotectin, c-reactive protein, ESR), scopes/imaging results (colonoscopy, upper endoscopy, MRI, etc), and symptoms.
4. Learn the different types of remission
There are different types of IBD remission including:
- Clinical remission
- Biochemical remission
- Endoscopic remission
- Surgical remission
- Histological remission
- Intestinal barrier healing
5. Learn the difference between trigger, pro-inflammatory, and anti-inflammatory foods
- Trigger foods - foods that, when consumed, trigger symptoms
- Pro-inflammatory foods - foods that, when consumed frequently over time, increase the risk for active disease
- Anti-inflammatory foods - foods that, when consumed frequently over time, decrease the risk for active disease
6. Psychological support can help you cope with your diagnosis and symptoms
- Speak with a GI psychologist
- Sign up for a support group and speak to other patients with Crohn’s or colitis
- Enroll in the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation’s power of two program
7. Learn the trusted sources for Crohn’s and colitis-related information
There’s a lot of information out there about IBD, including a lot of information that is misleading, conflicting, and confusing. Your best bet for navigating this information is to rely on a few reputable sources of information for answers to your IBD-related questions. Some reputable sources include:
- Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation
- American Gastroenterological Association
- Your IBD care team including your gastroenterologist, nurse practitioner, GI psychologist, and IBD-focused registered dietitian
- Evidence-based blogs like this one
Get support for your diet and symptoms
If you want support reducing your symptoms and expanding your diet, consider reaching out to one of our IBD-focused registered dietitians. We can help you quickly identify your trigger foods and find better tolerated alternatives you can swap into their place.
We can also help you decrease your risk for inflammation long-term and restore your relationship with food so you can feel more in control of your Crohn's or colitis. Request a call to learn more or to get started with an IBD-focused registered dietitian today.