Flushable wipes have become popular in the last few years. It's been a boon for those of us with IBD and other digestive problems. Paper can be very difficult on the perianal skin, and wipes can cut down on the pain and discomfort from wiping. However, there has been some speculation as to whether these wipes should really be flushed -- even if they say "flushable" on the package.
The answer? No, probably not.
It turns out that these wipes are not degrading, and wind up going all the way through the system to the wastewater treatment plants. When they turn up at the plant, they can get stuck in machinery. In fact, the good folks at your local wastewater treatment plant are having to remove the wipes from the water and send them off to the local landfill. And all the repairs and the removal costs money. Ultimately, it's the taxpayers that shoulder the bill.
In addition, wipes are clogging the plumbing in homes and businesses, prompting more frequent calls to plumbers to deal with the problem. For plumbers, it's been good for business, but for homeowners, it can be a real headache.
Consumers are also flushing wipes that are not truly flushable. Cleaning wipes, baby wipes, facial wipes -- most of these are not flushable, and they wind up going down the toilet anyway. It seems as though there is a lot of confusion as to what can go down the drain, and what can't.
In fact, the Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry (INDA), the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), the Water Environment Federation (WEF), and the American Public Works Association (APWA) have gotten together to craft a response to this problem. Their recommendations include calling on companies who make wipes to properly label their products when they are truly not flushable. They developed a Do Not Flush logo which is very effective in helping consumers to understand which products they should and should not flush.
Even so, this is still a problem and not every manufacturer may be on board with the labeling. So, what should we be doing with wipes instead? Either don't use them, or throw them away in the trash. If they don't clog up your plumbing, they are going to end up in the landfill anyway, you might as well just start the process before it costs more money and causes more problems.
Photo © INDA
INDA. "Flushability: Leading the Way to Promote the Proper Disposal of Nonwoven Disposable Products." INDA.org. June 2013.
Get your 2014 Colondar featuring the proud tummies of colon cancer survivors! Colondars are $10.00, plus shipping & handling, includes US holidays, and contains facts and important dates in colorectal cancer history.
Photo © The Colon Club
People who have digestive problems such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) have long maintained that food can contribute to their symptoms. Researchers and physicians have not always been on board with this theory, instead focusing on other causes and contributors.
Some recent research into foods high in FODMAPs, or Fermentable Oligo-, Di- and Mono-saccharides, and Polyols, raises the idea that certain types of carbohydrates increase digestive symptoms. It's long been known that certain foods are more likely to cause gas, indigestion, or diarrhea, but this theory puts a little more structure around exactly which foods and why.
Of course, this is still just a theory, there's plenty more research that needs to be done before altering diet in this way becomes a mainstream treatment for IBS or IBD. But, it's an interesting idea, and something worth keeping in mind when you talk to your doctor or your nutritionist.
More about the low FODMAP diet:
For the third year, the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) is sponsoring a Crohn's and Colitis Awareness Week! Resolution 199 passed in the United States Senate designates the week of December 1, 2013 through December 7, 2013 as "Crohn's and Colitis Awareness Week." The CCFA is asking us to take this week to raise awareness by:
- Write to your House Representatives and encourage them to join the Crohn’s and Colitis Caucus, http://capwiz.com/ccfa/home/.
- “Like” the CCFA on Facebook (www.facebook.com/ccfafb) and follow the Foundation on Twitter (www.twitter.com/ccfa).
- Changing your Facebook status to: I’m supporting Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness week and you should too! To learn more, see http://online.ccfa.org/site/PageNavigator/AdvocacyPage.html.
- Use the #CCFAawarenessweek tag on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.
- Change your profile picture to the CCFA logo, which you can download here
- Download the CCFA Awareness Week Poster
- Reach out to anyone you know with IBD and let them know you care.
- Download the Crohn's and Colitis Awareness Week Press Release.
- Visit www.ccfa.org to learn more about IBD.
Online shopping is a great idea if getting out to the mall or the shops is going to be a challenge for you. In your worst case scenario, where you need to shop at a busy time, your best chance of success will be to find a place to shop that has easily accessible restrooms. I have several more holiday shopping ideas that can help make your day a success.
More about holiday planning:
Sherri Ritchie Milenof is an artisan who designs and creates jewelry with awareness in mind. She's dedicated her business to raising public perception of the auto-immune diseases that affect so many. I was able to talk to Sherri, and talk a bit more about her health challenges, as well as her goals for her jewelry business.
About IBD: What connection do you have to the IBD community?
Sherri Ritchie Milenoff: I myself suffer from two auto-immune diseases, Crohn's and Lupus. I was diagnosed with Crohn's in 2005, but they believe I've had it since 1999 based on old CT scans.
Sherri: I make several different "Awareness" bracelets and necklace sets. This really hits home with me personally and I think it's very important to get awareness out there for different auto-immune diseases and cancers. I love making one-of-a-kind jewelry, so unless someone wants more then one of the same design, all my pieces are special in their own way. However I will be making several of the same "Awareness" bracelets for those who want to purchase them in quantity. At the end of the year, I am going to go through all my sales and donate a percentage to as many charities as I can for each jewelry section of sales I do. I hope you like what you see!
About IBD: What do you like to do in your spare time?
Sherri: I love music, playing my guitar and making awareness jewelry.
About IBD: How can we find you and keep up with your latest jewelry creations?
Image © Sherri Ritchie Milenoff
Even so, knowing that an ostomy can save your life or bring you a healthier future doesn't help when it comes to preparing for surgery. People faced with ileostomy surgery will want to know everything they can about what is going to happen to them. Talking to others who have had ileostomy surgery, especially another patient your surgeon has operated on, can be a wonderful way to ease your mind.
Another way to ease your mind is to read information about how the surgery might go, and what it might be like to wake up with a brand-new ileostomy. Having ileostomy surgery is certainly daunting, but it doesn't have to be a mystery.
More about ilestomy surgery:
Digestion is a fact of life, it's something that we all do every day, yet most of us have a hard time talking about it. We should be able to bring our digestive symptoms in to our physicians, but even that can be difficult conversation.
A recent post in the IBD forum is a perfect illustration of how shame and silence about bowel symptoms can be harmful to our health:
"IBS runs in my family. I am too embarrassed to go to the doctor to get checked out. I naturally don't do "number 2" very often but recently been going a few times a day and they're not very big but softer than usual. I have also had stomach cramps and have been passing wind a lot. It's louder than usual and a lot smellier. Can I have IBS?..."
Embarrassment shouldn't prevent anyone from going to see a doctor and getting a diagnosis. Getting a diagnosis is the only way to seek treatment and move on towards feeling better. Delaying the doctor's appointment, and therefore the diagnosis, could lead to more health problems and worsening symptoms. So, how can you talk to your doctor about your embarrassing symptoms?
- Develop a relationship with your physician. It helps to have a regular doctor when weird things come up. You already have a rapport and it will be easier for you to discuss your problems with someone you already know and trust.
- Remember that your physician has heard it before. You may find your symptoms graphic and awful, but your physician has already seen and talked about these symptoms for many years in school and with colleagues. You are not going to embarrass or upset him or her.
- You won't be judged. You may worry about being labeled or thought of a certain way when you bring your symptoms out in the open. The doctor's office should be a judgement-free zone where you go to get the help you need.
- Make yourself comfortable. Find something that will make you feel at ease, and do it. Use meditation, visualization, or any other stress relieving technique that you have in your arsenal.
- Use your own words. You've probably looked up your symptoms on the Internet, and you might even know the medical jargon to describe them. But just use your own words and describe what's been going on in the way that you find easiest. Practice saying them aloud if you have problems speaking the words you'll need to use.
- If words fail you -- write a note. There's nothing wrong with writing out your symptoms and some questions and handing them over to the doctor. You may need to elaborate aloud, but this will give you a starting point.