Self-care series | Know your body and when to contact your IBD team

It is possible for us to have stomach issues due to factors not related to IBD, so if you think you’re experiencing symptoms which indicate a flare, consider whether you have been in contact with someone with a stomach bug, or it could have been caused by something you ate or drank, and monitor any symptoms for a few days.

A few things you may want to keep an eye on:
Increased OR decreased stool frequency
Increased urgency or accidents (worry not, it’s happened to the best of us)
A change in stool consistency
Increased wind
Passing blood / mucous OR an increase to what is normal for you
Increased abdominal pain / discomfort
Increased bloating / abdominal distension 
If you have been living with IBD for many years, it’s likely that you have become accustomed to recognising the signs of an imminent flare, but do stay aware that IBD can change its tactics at ANY time, so new symptoms are worth contacting your team about too.

For those not yet familiar with the early signs of trouble, completing a disease activity index may help you decide whether to contact your team or not. A disease activity index calculates the severity of your disease based on your answers to questions relating to symptoms. A simple Google search for these calculators should steer you right, with different calculators available for Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Pouchitis and Paediatric.

You first port of call should be your IBD nurse, if you have one. If not, contact your consultant’s secretary for an appointment and see your GP in the meantime.