13 Things You Should Never Say to Someone Living with Moderate to Severe Crohn’s Disease

Crohn’s disease can cause a lot of anxiety and uncertainty. People who live with Crohn’s never know when their next flare-up might hit, or what they’ll be doing when it does.

Crohn’s disease is a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes inflammation in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. People with Crohn’s experience sudden bouts of abdominal pain and diarrhea, along with symptoms like fatigue and weight loss.

It’s not easy for people who have Crohn’s disease to talk about it because it’s such a sensitive, personal subject. Telling friends and co-workers can be a real test of trust. Many people with Crohn’s are looking for allies to support them through the worst of their symptoms. Those not familiar with the disease might make some misguided comments.

We asked people from our Living with Crohn’s Disease Facebook community to share comments they’ve received that rubbed them the wrong way.

1. “How long do you have to do those infusions?” — Lexie Clark

There’s no quick fix for Crohn’s disease. Crohn’s is a chronic disease that requires long-term care. Infusion therapy can help control the overactive immune response that causes inflammation.

People with Crohn’s might get these drugs every few weeks until their disease stabilizes, and then only when they have a flare-up. But the regimen is different for everybody. It depends on how severe the disease is and how well it responds to treatment.

Asking someone when their treatment will end only reminds them that they’re in this for the long haul. And, spoiler alert, they probably won’t know the answer.

2. My boss continually makes annoying comments about my Crohn’s disease. — Anonymous

People with Crohn’s aren’t obligated to tell their employer about their condition. They have the right to say as much — or as little — as they feel comfortable doing. Yet, they may have to be open about it if they need special accommodations — like extra break time or a desk closer to the bathroom.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) stops companies from harassing or discriminating against people for revealing that they have a chronic illness. Making unwelcome comments to an employee with Crohn’s disease isn’t just hurtful, it could also violate their rights.

3. “You can eat junk food and not a salad? That doesn’t make sense.” — Anonymous

Diet is an important part of managing Crohn’s disease. Everyone with the condition has different dietary needs. Some people have to avoid certain foods, like high-fiber vegetables, because they irritate the digestive tract and make inflammation worse. Others lose their appetite and have to eat more calorie-dense foods to meet their daily requirements.

No diet for Crohn’s recommends “junk foods.” In fact, greasy, fried foods can aggravate symptoms. Giving someone a hard time about what they’re eating when they already have so much to worry about will only make them feel awful.

4. “Feel better soon.” — Dawn Pawnsford

Crohn’s disease is a life-long condition. People who have it won’t “get better soon.” They’ll learn to manage their symptoms over time.

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