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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Self-care for IBD

There are several things you can do to help yourself if you have IBD.

Learn more about IBD and consider joining the Canterbury Crohn’s & Colitis Support Group.

Stop smoking. This can help to cut the number of flare-ups you have, and those you do have are likely to be less severe.

Learn how to eat well with IBD. Although there is no special diet that will cure IBD, eating well will improve your overall health and may help with some of your symptoms. During a flare-up, you may find that your gut is more sensitive to some foods and drinks than normal. You may find it helps to limit these foods while you have symptoms. You should be able to start eating them again once you feel better. You may need to follow a low-fibre diet to stop getting a blockage if you have a narrowing in your bowel. You can usually add back more high-fibre food once you feel better.

Look after your overall health by managing stress, eating well, keeping active and making sure you get enough sleep.

Have regular check-ups with your GP. They will check that your condition is stable and that any medicines you're taking are working well without any significant side effects. Your GP may send you for a bone density scan to check for osteoporosis. This is because some medicines used to treat IBD can weaken your bones.

If you're underweight, finding it difficult to eat well or losing weight without trying, your GP may refer you to see a dietitian.

Travelling with IBD

If you're travelling overseas, the IBD passport can help with information and advice.

Pregnancy and IBD

If you plan to become pregnant, talk to your GP before you start trying. You may need to have extra folate supplements and there are some IBD medications you shouldn't take when you're pregnant. Your GP will refer you to a gastroenterologist who will help to manage your care while you're pregnant.

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed July 2021.


See also:

Having an anaesthetic


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Review key: HIIBD-40631