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How to Tame Your IBD at Work — 4 Best Tips

Inflammatory Bowel DiseaseWhen you have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), you can have some rough seas to navigate at work. You may be dealing with diarrhea, bowel urgency, stomach pain and anemia — symptoms that often don’t mesh well with a long day on the job.

Of course, the goal is remission so you can live, work and play symptom-free. But for the nearly 2 million Americans with IBD, most commonly Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, that is not always possible.

But the good news is that if you plan well, you often can prevail in your job and limit the effect of IBD.

1. Consider what is important to disclose
Let’s say you’re in the process of looking for a job. It’s important to understand your needs. Ask yourself: How will this condition and symptoms affect my working hours?

“If you happen to have frequent bowel habits, you might not want to get a job as a flight attendant,” says gastroenterologist Jessica Philpott, MD, PhD. “Knowing your body and trying to find a job that fits your body’s schedule is good.”

Should you tell a potential employer about the condition? You are not required to disclose it, she says, but it is sometimes a good idea to do so if you require regular absences.

“It’s not always the case, but most people will be understanding, so you have to decide what is best for your particular situation,” she says. “You should consider disclosure it if you believe it will greatly impact your work performance,” she adds.

2. Ask for accommodations if you need them