Now that spring is here in the Northern Hemisphere, and snow is melting across the temperate areas, it is now becoming time for the spring and summer charity walks. Many inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) organizations (such as the Crohn's And Colitis Foundation Of America [CCFA]) hold runs and walks in order to raise money. The funds raised are put towards everything from IBD research to public education efforts. In the case of the CCFA, walks are held all spring and summer across the United States.
The thing about participating in a charity walk is that if you don't walk regularly year-round, it might be a challenge for you when you do a charity walk or two during the summer months. Not that it is impossible, and not that you shouldn't walk to in support of the causes that you believe in. But, you will want to start thinking about getting your body ready to walk as soon as you possibly can. Even if you're reading this a few days before your walk, there is still something you can do. But, ideally, you are thinking of getting ready for your walk a month or more ahead of time.
At whatever level you're starting, our Walking Expert, Wendy Bumgardner (AKA Walking Wendy), has her Once-A-Year Walker's Survival Kit just for you.
Why is this day important to you? With chronic conditions such as IBD, healthcare decisions may need to be made quickly. When patients provide that information in advance, healthcare providers can make choices for the patient that are in accordance with the patient's beliefs.
I encourage you to have an advance directive. I also hope you will speak with those closest to you about your wishes for your care, particularly as they relate to issues surrounding your IBD. This can include decisions about medications, surgery or surgical complications, and mental health care.
More about talking with your family about healthcare:
Wanted: Kids between the ages of 11 and 17. Do you ever feel like you are the only teenager with an ostomy or j-pouch? Do you have questions and concerns that no one can help you answer -- because you don't know anyone else with an ostomy? Here is your chance to meet other kids at the 2014 Youth Rally who are just like you, and have a great time doing it!
Sleep can be a huge problem for people with IBD. And not just because of waking every few hours to go to the bathroom, although that's a large part of it. There may also be abdominal pain or night sweats. Some people find they suffer from insomnia because of drug side effects, or anxiety and restlessness. Working on developing better sleep habits for yourself can go a long way towards mitigating these problems that disrupt your sleep. Sleep is important, and most of us don't get enough, therefore it is worth taking the time to clean up sleep habits and get into a better pattern. What can you do to help yourself get restful sleep?
More on IBD and Sleep:
- How Do You Get Better Sleep When Your IBD is Flaring?
- Does IBD Keep You Up at Night?
- The Bathroom Dream
- Does IBD Cause Night Sweats?
Image © Lotus Head
For me, IBD really runs in my family. I had a mysterious rash one year that we suspected was Lyme disease. I had spent the summer doing local "clean-ups" and had spent a fair amount of time running around in rivers, streams, fields, and wooded areas, so it was not an unreasonable suspicion. I was treated with antibiotics for suspected Lyme disease, and the next thing I knew, the symptoms of ulcerative colitis had set in that fall. I'll never know for sure what exactly caused my IBD, but it does seem as if the events of that summer had something to do with it.
How about you? What caused your IBD? Does it run in your family? Did you get diagnosed after a stressful event? Use the "comment" button below to tell me about it.
If you have a backache or a headache, do you reach for the over-the-counter pain medications in your medicine cabinet? Most of us do. And people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) might experience just as many, if not more, aches and pains, than other people. The problem is that if you have IBD, you'll want to be very careful about what painkillers you take because some of them can set off a flare-up. That does leave people with IBD in a difficult position when it comes to treating pain from arthritis and other painful conditions. There is one alternative, however, that is open to people with IBD. Learn more about NSAIDs and IBD.
Image © Reena Young
I am often asked about new colorectal cancer screening technology, and when it might be used on a routine basis. People ask this, of course, because they do not want to have a conventional colonoscopy. I'm sorry to say that you can not wait for the new screening methods to be developed. If you need to be screened for colon cancer, a colonoscopy is still the way to go. We can still hold out hope for these technologies to developed and to reach widespread use, but it won't be anytime soon. But maybe in 10 years -- in time for your next colonoscopy?
More about screening:
Image © Given Imaging Ltd.
The thing about colon cancer is that it is very treatable if it's found in the early stages. But in order to treat colon cancer, it must first be found. We can't rely on symptoms to tell us if we have colon cancer -- there often aren't any symptoms until the cancer has progressed significantly. In that case, we must determine who is most at risk for colon cancer and screen for the disease, in the absence of any symptoms. The current gold standard for colon cancer screening is the colonoscopy. Only during a colonoscopy can polyps be removed, thereby making sure that the polyp can not turn cancerous. In certain cases a colonoscopy might not be the best choice of screening method, and so there are several others that might be used. Find out more about how colon cancer is diagnosed.
More about screening:
Photo © A.D.A.M.