medical IDs for inflammatory bowel disease

Medical IDs for Inflammatory Bowel Disease

The confidence to live with inflammatory bowel disease

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 3.1 million people in the U.S. are living with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). In a given year, between 1% and 11% of people with IBD will have chronically active disease and more than 20% will have moderate disease. While there is no cure for IBD, the condition can be managed with prescription medications, over-the-counter treatments, and lifestyle changes.

That’s why medical IDs for inflammatory bowel disease play an important role in comprehensive plans for managing IBD.

How MedicAlert protects those living with inflammatory bowel disease

One thing you shouldn’t worry about is what could happen if there’s an emergency. MedicAlert’s protection plans offer benefits that extend beyond the ID, providing safety and peace of mind for people living with inflammatory bowel disease, their families and caregivers.

24/7 Emergency Response

Our team provides first responders the information they need to provide fast, accurate care.

Digital Health Profile

All your vital information, all in one place for you and your caregiver.

Emergency Contact Notification

In an emergency, we connect families so that no one is alone in a crisis.

Patient Instructions

Share the information that’s important to your care, such as use of rescue medications or contraindication for tests like MRIs.

Pair a medical ID for inflammatory bowel disease with the protection plan that’s right for you.

What exactly is inflammatory bowel disease?

Inflammatory bowel disease is an umbrella term that is used to describe two primary types of IBD: 

Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis (UC). Rarer types of IBD include microscopic colitis (MC), diversion colitis, and Behçet’s disease.

Crohn’s disease causes pain, swelling, and inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract, specifically, the upper part of the large intestine and the small intestine. In some cases, however, it can cause symptoms in any other part of the body from the mouth to the anus.

Ulcerative colitis also causes inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract, but only the lining of the large intestine or colon is affected. A person living with UC will also develop sores (ulcers) in the large intestine. Microscopic colitis can only be seen under a microscope—hence the name. A person living with MC will experience frequent, watery diarrhea, stemming from irritation in the intestinal lining.

Diversion colitis is a condition that develops following surgical procedures including colostomy (a piece of the colon is diverted to bypass a damaged part of the colon) and ileostomy (the small intestine is diverted through an opening in the abdomen). Like all other forms of IBD, diversion colitis causes inflammation, specifically the large intestine.

In the U.S., Behçet’s (beh-CHETS) disease is the rarest form of IBD. More common in Asia and the Middle East, Behçet’s is a type of autoimmune disease that causes inflammation in the blood vessels. People living with Behçet’s may develop mouth, skin, and genital sores, arthritis, eye pain and redness, and/or vision impairment. 

What causes inflammatory bowel disease?

The exact cause of IBD is unknown, but there is a hereditary link. Scientific evidence suggest that 5% to 20% of people living with IBD have a parent, sibling or child with Crohn’s disease or UC. The risk of IBD being hereditary is greater with Crohn’s disease and when both parents had/have the disease. According to Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA), one study found that 36% of people with both parents affected developed IBD. 

Another possible cause of IBD is a malfunction within the immune system. When the body’s immune system detects an invading bacterium or virus, it attempts to fight it off. In some cases, this response can go awry, causing the immune system to attack healthy cells in the digestive tract. 

Although studies are either pending, conflicting or inconclusive, other potential causes of and risk factors for developing IBD are thought to be environmental or lifestyle-related. Examples include smoking, overuse of NSAIDs, obesity, diet, stress, and viruses. 

Help others help you. Wear a medical alert ID bracelet or necklace engraved with important information for emergency responders and healthcare providers

What are the symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease?

Symptoms of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are very similar. They can be persistent, moderate or mild, and in most cases, unpredictable. People living with IBD may experience common symptoms such as:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Constipation
  • Fatigue
  • Gas and bloating
  • Loss of appetite
  • Persistent diarrhea
  • Rectal bleeding/bloody stools
  • Upset stomach
  • Weight loss

Less common to rare symptoms associated Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis include:

  • Fever
  • Itchy, red, painful eyes
  • Joint pain and swelling
  • Nausea
  • Skin rashes
  • Ulcers
  • Vision problems
  • Vomiting

What to engrave on your MedicAlert medical ID for inflammatory bowel disease:

MedicAlert offers free custom engraving on all our IBD bracelets and medical ID products. Engravings on medical IDs for inflammatory bowel disease should include any critical medical information that can protect and save lives in an accident or medical emergency, for example:

  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Current medications
medical IDs for inflammatory bowel disease

Sample engraving. Consult our team if you need help engraving your medical ID for inflammatory bowel disease.

What are the potential complications of inflammatory bowel disease?

Some people living with IBD will develop complications that require immediate medical care. IBD increases the risk of developing:

  • Anal fistula (an abnormal tunnel that connects the anal canal in the colon to the skin of the buttocks)
  • Anemia
  • Bile duct inflammation 
  • Blood clots (deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or pulmonary embolism)
  • Cirrhosis of the liver
  • Colon cancer
  • Kidney stones
  • Narrowing of the anal canal where stool leaves the body (anal stenosis or stricture)
  • Osteoporosis
  • Perforated bowel (hole or tear in the large intestine)
  • Severe intestinal swelling (toxic megacolon)

How do you diagnose inflammatory bowel disease?

While no single test can diagnose inflammatory bowel disease, the process typically begins with a questionnaire about your symptoms, a complete blood count (CBC), and a stool sample test. Common diagnostic tests for IBD include:

  • Capsule endoscopy, which involves swallowing a small camera that captures images as it travels through the body’s digestive tract. 
  • Colonoscopy, which examines the large and small intestines.
  • Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) to look for swelling and ulcers in the digestive tract. 
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy, which examines the inside of the anus and rectum.
  • Imaging scans, such as a CT scan or MRI, to look for signs of an abscess or inflammation.
  • Upper endoscopy, which examines the digestive tract from the mouth to the small intestine.
Help with navigating the daily balancing act of caregiving.

How do you treat, manage, and live with inflammatory bowel disease?

There is no cure for IBD. Even with surgery, the disease can recur. The good news is, mild to moderate IBD can be managed with prescription and over-the-counter medications and dietary and lifestyle changes. The goal of IBD treatment is to reduce the inflammation that triggers your symptoms. Prescription medications include:

  • Anti-inflammatories: corticosteroids and aminosalicylates such as mesalamine (Asacol HD, Delzicol,) balsalazide (Colazal), olsalazine (Dipentum), and budesonide (Tarpeyo)
  • Antibiotics: ciprofloxacin (Cipro) and metronidazole (Flagyl)
  • Biologics: infliximab (Remicade), adalimumab (Humira), golimumab (Simponi), certolizumab (Cimzia), vedolizumab (Entyvio) and ustekinumab (Stelara)
  • Bile acid sequestrants (colesevelam, colestipol)

  • Immune system suppressors: azathioprine (Azasan, Imuran), mercaptopurine (Purinethol, Purixan) and methotrexate (Trexall)

Over-the-counter treatments for IBD include:

  • Antidiarrheals (Imodium) and bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto Bismol): decreases the flow of fluids and electrolytes into the bowel, slows the movement of the bowel to decrease the number of bowel movements

  • Psyllium (Metamucil): relieves both constipation and diarrhea, makes bowel movements easier

If medications stop working, your doctor may prescribe treatments that target the immune system. Examples include Cromolyn sodium, low dose naltrexone, and TNF inhibitors such as adalimumab and infliximab. If all medications and treatments become ineffective, your doctor may suggest surgery. 

Many people living with Crohn’s disease alone will need surgery at some point—even with medication and healthy eating. Common IBD surgeries include:

  • Bowel resection: removes the damaged part of the small or large intestine, connects the two healthy ends
  • Colectomy: removes the colon, but leaves the rectum
  • End ileostomy: a type of proctolectomy that involves rerouting the end of the small intestine through a small hole in the abdomen called the stoma. An ostomy bag outside the stoma collects waste.
  • Ileostomy: reroutes stool through the stoma to allow the intestine to heal after another surgery, to reduce inflammation, or in preparation for surgery on the anus or rectum. Waste drains into an ostomy bag.
  • Proctolectomy: removes the large intestine (colon and rectum)

Lifestyle changes include:

  • Crafting a diet of anti-inflammatory foods (non-cruciferous vegetables, low fiber fruits, lean protein, gluten-free bread, probiotic foods)
  • Exercising, increasing daily physical activity
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Losing weight
  • Quitting smoking
  • Reducing stress

How medical IDs for inflammatory bowel disease combined with MedicAlert  Membership provide peace of mind

  • We’re your voice:  If you can’t speak for yourself due to a medical emergency, your ID will speak for you – informing others about your inflammatory bowel disease and any medications you’re taking.

  • 24/7 emergency protection:  In an emergency, the MedicAlert team will relay all of your critical medical information to first responders, no matter where or when your emergency happens.

  • Always connected:  You should never be alone in an emergency. That’s why MedicAlert will reach out to your designated contacts if you are unable to do so.

  • Live with peace of mind and confidence:  MedicAlert will be there for you every step of the way. You’ll have the confidence and freedom to live your life with inflammatory bowel disease, knowing we’ve got you covered. 
DISCLAIMER: THIS WEBSITE DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. The information in this article is presented for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis and treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified healthcare provider for any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.