How to be an Empowered Patient With IBD

by Brian Greenberg Patient Advocate

When you live with a chronic disease such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, there are times when things feel out of your control. There are times when all you can do is listen to the doctors that surround you. These times are tough, but there are things you can do to change your mindset and keep things together. What is the trick to feeling in control, even at the worst of times?

Knowledge is power! Remember those “The More You Know” PSAs that featured educational and informational tidbits? They’ve been around since the ‘80s for a reason! Knowledge is the key to living a better life with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.

Many patients go with the flow and let their disease run its course. They listen to what the doctors tell them, take their medications on time, and so on. But do patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) know their disease inside and out? Do they know all the medical options that are at their disposal? Do they know of all the available resources, which they should exhaust before making a big decision?

The answer I’ve found is no. Not all patients put in the work to manage their disease the best they can. Because it is our body and our life, it is our job to put in the work to learn everything we can about Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. We can’t rely solely on loved ones and doctors to make the important decisions for us or make everything OK.

Knowing your disease inside and out gives you a better mindset with your IBD. It helps you know your options, allows you to develop opinions about them, and gives you the ability to have more informed conversations with your medical teams and loved ones. You’ll develop real thoughts, concerns, and questions.

Imagine having a larger say in your medical care, understanding what is going on, and being able to analyze your body and care better that you ever have before. That’s a game changer, and it can help you get the best care possible.

One of the best things about knowing your disease inside and out is that it will enable you to maintain a better relationship with your doctor. They’ll show an added respect for your involvement with your treatment and you’ll be able to have easier conversations with them. Beyond that, you’ll have the knowledge to better self-care as well!

Now you know. The more you know, the better care you receive in every area of your life. Get out there and put the work in to make your life better in every way you can!

Brian Greenberg
Meet Our Writer
Brian Greenberg

Diagnosed at 11 which makes his Crohn’s career 24 years. After countless surgeries of various levels, Brian decided for ostomy surgery. Now he's lived with an ostomy 7 years and made it permanent 4 years ago. Doing everything he can to overcome his disease and live a normal life. Brian is also a Social Ambassador for the IBD HealthCentral Facebook page.