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Living with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis

With careful management most people with Crohn's diseases or colitis are able to enjoy all the aspects of a satisfying life, including work, travel, recreational activities, engaging in sexual activity and having children.

For more information and support visit the Crohn's and Colitis Australia website or call the IBD helpline on 1800 138 029.

Staying healthy

Some things you may wish to do to help maintain good health include:

  • Keep a food diary to check if there are any foods that make your symptoms worse during a flare-up.
  • Ask your doctor about taking supplements if you are losing weight or you think you are not absorbing enough vitamins and minerals from your diet.
  • If you have Crohn's disease and you are a smoker, consider quitting. There is evidence that smoking can make Crohn's disease more severe and harder to control.
  • Enjoy regular exercise to lift your mood and help relieve stress.
  • Consider learning some relaxation techniques to help manage your stress levels.

Living with a stoma

People with very severe Crohn's disease or colitis sometimes require surgery that leaves them with a stoma, which is an opening on the outside of the abdomen through which the contents of the bowel are emptied into a bag.

Many people are frightened by the idea of living with a stoma. However this type of surgery often vastly improves the quality of life of people who require it.

For more information about living with a stoma, visit the Australian Council of Stoma Associations website

Sources: Australian Council of Stoma Associations (Publication - A beginning not an end. Life after ostomy surgery. Fourth edition. (2010)), Crohn's and Colitis Australia (What is ulcerative colitis?, What is Crohn's disease?, What is IBD?, Smoking and Crohn's Disease), Gastroenterological Society of Australia (Publication - GESA, DHF. Information about Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. (2011)), NHS Choices, UK (Crohn's disease - Self-help, Ulcerative colitis - Living with)

Last reviewed: September 2015

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