The staff at the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center at Baylor University Medical Center has more than 20 years of experience caring for patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, which require lifelong, coordinated care.
We've learned that anticipatory and preventive care is critically important in IBD. Here are 10 things that may improve your outcomes:
1. Corticosteroids are double-edged weapons in the war against IBD: while they may make you feel better in the short-term, long term side-effects are real and serious. Are steroids being used for longer than 8 weeks at a time? Side-effects increase at that point. Steroid-sparing medications (that allow tapering and stopping of the steroid medication) are available and can mitigate that risk.
2. Are all vaccinations up-to-date? Vaccines can prevent infections that can complicate IBD or its treatment.
3. Is bone health being monitored? IBD is associated with an increased risk of osteopenia and osteoporosis that can be reduced with treatment.
4. If you are a smoker with Crohn's disease, do you realize the detrimental effects of smoking on your disease? Smoking cessation is important and current treatments to stop smoking work better than ever.
5. If you have longstanding ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease of the colon, you are at increased risk for developing colon cancer. Periodic colonoscopies can detect precancerous changes or early cancer and reduce your risk of dying from colon cancer.
6. Have your blood count checked regularly. Anemia can sneak up on you, but can be treated easily.
7. Be careful with exposure to radiation. X-ray tests, such as CT scans, can be helpful at times, but radiation side-effects are cumulative, and exposure should be limited as much as possible.
8. Are you taking narcotics for pain control regularly? Narcotics are best used for acute pain; chronic use can lead to problems. Alternative pain management techniques can be used to get you off these medications.
9. Be sure to take your medications as prescribed! Missing doses or stopping treatment without talking with your doctor is a recipe for relapse.
10. Keep your follow-up visits with your doctor! Even if you feel well, your IBD may be active and preventive care may be due. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!
The IBD Center at Baylor University Medical Center is ready to help you deal with your condition. Call us if we can be of assistance.