AGA - American Gastroenterological Association
AGA - American Gastroenterological Association

Planning your IBD life

Planning your IBD life

Navigating the workplace

Icon of desk with computer monitor to signify the workplace
As a person with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), you may be eligible for reasonable accommodations in the workplace—which could help with challenges like dealing with unexpected flares during the workday and sharing information about your condition to your boss and colleagues.
Icon of desk with computer monitor to signify the workplace

Communicating your needs at work

  • Tell your employer if you think IBD could impact your work and believe there are accommodations that can make your work environment better. Accommodations can include:
    • Working remotely.
    • Flexibility with in-person meetings.
    • Having your desk closer to the bathroom.
    • Working a different schedule to accommodate things like medical appointments or regular treatments.
    • Keeping bathroom necessities in your shared space.
  • You can register your IBD as a disability. With IBD, you are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and may be eligible for reasonable accommodation in the workplace. Learn more about ADA here.
  • Not everyone is familiar with the severity of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Practice an “elevator pitch” about your condition to help your coworkers understand what you are going through.
    • Ex. “I have Crohn’s disease. It’s a chronic condition that causes inflammation in the GI tract. For me, this means I have to use the bathroom more than most people, and I am sometimes fatigued. While I manage my condition well, flare-ups and other symptoms can happen at any time. I may have to adjust my schedule at times, but I’ll give you a heads up if I need to do so.”
No day is the same, so it’s hard to predict what might happen and when, no matter how much you try and have a routine. You may have joint pain randomly and have to cancel a meeting and reschedule life plans. It is very unpredictable, so it can be helpful to set those expectations with your job ahead of time.
Tina Aswani Omprakash,
patient living with Crohn’s disease

Managing tricky situations

  • Expect the unexpected. Planning is key with IBD, so make sure to pack an emergency bag including items such as:
    • Bathroom wipes.
    • Protective underwear.
    • Odor-fighting products like an air freshening spray.
    • Change of clothes.
    • Disinfectant wipes.
    • Pads or diapers.
    • Diaper rash creams.
  • Many people are self-conscious about using the bathroom at work, whether they have IBD or not.
    • Feeling awkward or uncomfortable using public bathrooms is common for almost everyone.
    • Note that most people are not paying close attention to what others are doing and are likely not focusing on how frequently you use the bathroom.
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