Tips to Manage Crohn  s at Work

Most people who have Crohn’s can hold a steady job and enjoy a rewarding career. A little planning and preparation can make all the difference in having a successful day at work. Here are a few tips for managing Crohn’s at work.

1. Always have a change of clothes—just in case.

2. If you leave the office for a meeting, or to go out to lunch with your colleagues, plan ahead. If you can have a say in the restaurant choice, choose one you know has menu items you can eat. When the decision is out of your control, take care of your own needs. Call ahead to the restaurant to request special food, or eat before you go so you can relax without worrying about triggering symptoms.

3. Wherever you go, make your first order of business to identify the nearest restroom and the most direct way to get there.

4. Bring your own food to work so you always have something you know is safe for you to eat.

5. Drink plenty of fluids.

6. Get a “Can’t Wait” card from the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America, and always carry it with you. A Can’t Wait card provides evidence that you have a medical condition that requires immediate access to a rest room. It’s especially helpful in places that do not offer public restrooms.

7. Allow extra time to get to and from work or business appointments. You’ll be more relaxed knowing you’ve built in a cushion in case you are delayed. Choose a route, or a transportation mode, where you’re comfortable there are readily accessible rest rooms.

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), guarantees employees 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a 12-month period. You can use this leave when you’re unable to work due to a health condition. Take advantage of this time if you need it.

Remember, Crohn’s can be confusing and easily misunderstood by people who are unfamiliar with the disease. Help your coworkers understand it by explaining how it affects you. This will legitimize your absences when you have flare-ups or doctor appointments that keep you away from work.