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Work Tips

Tips for Coping With Crohn's at Work

Have clean clothes handy, just in case

Always have a change of clothes with you in case of an emergency. You can keep them in your desk or in a bag that you bring to work every day.

Ask your doctor which Crohn's medications could help

Talk to your doctor about your work schedule and find out which Crohn’s treatments you can use to reduce your symptoms. You might also want to talk to your doctor about medications that firm up your stool or that are antidiarrheal in nature.

Know your rights

As an employee with Crohn’s disease, you may be covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This means that if you work for a company with 15 employees or more, you may be protected from discrimination in hiring, promotions, pay, and other privileges of employment.

According to the ADA, you may also ask an employer for a "reasonable accommodation," as long as your request doesn’t impose an "undue hardship" on the company. An accommodation might include moving your desk closer to a restroom, allowing time off for flare-ups, or permitting telecommuting when necessary. You may want to talk to your employer about what is reasonable in accommodating your individual situation.

Remember: a little understanding goes a long way

As embarrassing as it may be, telling your boss and your trusted coworkers about your illness can pay off in the long run. You might be surprised by their understanding and the sense of relief you’ll feel knowing that you have their support. For more advice about discussing Crohn’s with coworkers, check out the Fall 2009 issue of Crohn'sAdvocate magazine.

See also: Stories of people living with Crohn’s, Feel-good recipes, Your body image and Crohn's