Common Questions Non-IBDers Ask
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is something that can take a while to truly understand. It is also a disease that comes with a lot of myths. For IBD awareness month, I want to share some of the “interesting” questions we with IBD get and respond to them in some way.
Do you ever throw up from IBD or is it just diarrhea?
It greatly depends on the person but throwing up and nausea are often symptoms of IBD.
Is IBD essentially like having food poisoning all of the time?
Yes and no. There are a lot of similarities between the symptoms one might experience during an IBD flare up and food poisoning. However, given inflammatory bowel disease can cause many other issues that food poisoning does not, I would say it is very different. Fistulas, abscesses, strictures, surgery, harsh medications, obstructions, and frequent hospitalizations are just some of the things that set IBD apart from food poisoning.
If you avoid the right food, will you be fine?
I wish it was that easy! While some people may be able to control the symptoms of their IBD (Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis) with a specialized diet, most of us cannot. I also want to point out that food neither causes nor cures inflammatory bowel disease. Many IBDers have “safe foods” and oftentimes, those aren’t the healthiest. For example, I cannot eat vegetables or salad without knowing I am going to be obstructed. Gummy bears have always been something I could semi tolerate, even at my worst.
Are all IBDers thin?
Absolutely not! There are many IBD patients who are of average weight and there are even many who are overweight. This has to do with either someone’s genetic makeup, or the impact diet and medications can have on someone’s body. For example, oftentimes healthy foods (like salads and veggies) cannot be tolerated but plain carbs can be. It can also be difficult for someone with IBD to exercise because of their disease. In addition, there are medications like prednisone that can cause increased weight gain and make losing it VERY difficult to do.
Do you still urinate normally when you have an ostomy?
For most people, yes.
Does it go away? Like, if you have surgery, are you cured?
Unfortunately, no. IBD is a lifelong chronic illness. This doesn’t mean that a person with the disease will be miserable and symptomatic 24/7 for their entire life. Surgery is a drastic treatment option and while many IBDers will undergo at least one surgery in their lifetime, it is not a cure. It can, however, put someone into remission but the disease cannot be removed from a person’s body. It is systemic. IBD can also cause other non- GI issues, often called extra intestinal manifestations.
Is IBD caused by stress?
No. No one who suffers from inflammatory bowel disease got their disease because they are a stressed out individual. Once a person has IBD, stress can exacerbate symptoms in some people. But IBD is not caused by stress.
Can someone with IBD just take their medications and be fine?
I wish it was that simple and for some, it is. However, oftentimes, medications are very much trial and error. Most can also take some time to build in a person’s system which prolongs the process of finding a proper treatment plan. A lot of times a person’s symptoms simply cannot be controlled with medication. It is also important to note that many IBD medications are infusions, injections or even enemas. While some come in oral form, it is often not a scenario where someone just takes their meds and goes on their merry way.
Is IBD contagious?
No. Not even a little bit.
Is IBD a sexually transmitted disease?
Are there other “interesting” questions you have been asked as an IBD patient? We would love to hear them in the comment section below!
What is your comfort level disclosing your IBD to your employer?