Medical Alert Bracelet For IBD?

I was told to wear a medical alert bracelet only two times over the course of my 18 years living with inflammatory bowel disease.

Prednisone

The first time was when I was on 80mg of prednisone. After spending weeks in the hospital on IV steroids, I was discharged on the oral form of the medication. My gastroenterologist told my parents that it was important for everyone to know I was on this drug since if God forbid something happened and I was unable to speak for myself, at least someone would be able to tell whatever medical professionals were caring for me, that I was on this medication. My parents told me that since I was only either in school or with them, that they wouldn’t make me wear any special bracelet.

Continent ileostomy

The five years I lived with a kock pouch (aka continent ileostomy) was the only time I actually wore a medical alert bracelet. My surgeon wouldn’t discharge me from the hospital without it so I knew it was important. When I questioned him about it at my first follow up appointment, he told me he had patients lose their pouch because of it. Without boring you with a lot of details about this particular pouch, since I know it is fairly uncommon now, I will say that it wasn’t something your average medical professional would know much about or understand.

Each situation is different

So! Do people who suffer from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) need to wear a medical alert bracelet? That depends.

Better safe than sorry

I personally believe better safe than sorry, but I also know it may be very triggering and/or upsetting for some people to feel like they have to walk around wearing a special piece of jewelry documenting facts about their health. I completely understand that the post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that a lot of IBD patients suffer from is very real and a medical alert bracelet might be too difficult emotionally for some people.

No one size fits all

While there is clearly no one size fits all answer to the question “should an IBD patient wear a medical alert bracelet?” I want to share three scenarios where I would highly recommend wearing one:

  1. You are on prednisone or another type of steroid.
  2. You live with a Jpouch or another kind of internal pouch.
  3. You have severe medication allergies/reactions.

It’s always best to talk with your doctor

I hope you know the above list is just my own personal opinion based on my experiences and knowledge as a person living with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) for many years. I am not a medical professional. If you aren’t sure whether YOU should have some type of medical alert bracelet, it might be a good idea to ask your GI.

What have your experiences been? Have you ever been told to wear a medical alert bracelet or carry a card with you? If so, what were the circumstances? If not, based on your knowledge of IBD, do you believe physicians should discuss this more with their patients? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

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