Free Services Available To People With IBD

Do You Need A Little Help? Here Are Some Resources You Might Not Know About

We know that inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) takes a toll on your health — it can affect your entire body and not just your digestive tract. However, IBD also takes a toll on your quality of life and on your finances. It's not uncommon for people with IBD to find that they have mounting medical costs. Medical bills can put a huge strain on your quality of life and on your mental health. Even when a person with IBD is in remission, or is at least stable for a time, the stress of waiting for the next problem and the next round of medical bills takes a toll.

That's why it's good to use free or low-cost services when possible. This isn't easy, especially when you're sick and need care or a new medication, shopping around can be more work than you're able to do at the time. Which is why I've put together these resources that you can take advantage of today and anytime you need a little help with your health but are concerned about the cost.

CCFA's Talk with an Information Specialist

Need to connect with an expert and get some questions answered? There's a free resource available to you from CCFA. Image © Henrik Sorensen / Stone / Getty Images

This may be the most versatile and important service that is offered to people with IBD, and yet also the most   underutilized. You can connect with an IBD specialist via phone, email, or live chat. These services are not going to replace the care that your gastroenterologist or colorectal surgeon will provide, but they are very valuable just the same. Maybe you need more information about a medication, or you are looking for a way to better understand a procedure or a medical term. This is where the Information Specialists at the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) can help. Don't hesitate to use these resources!

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CCFA's Find A Support Group

Women Hugging
Online support is amazing, and there's a lot of it for people with IBD. But sometimes you need a hug. Image © Tom Merton / Caiaimage / Getty Images

We have a lot of support for IBD patients online, and that's been such a boon to our community. But sometimes you need people that are more local, especially to share information about the resources that are available in your neighborhood. Or even just for a connection with a human who can give you a hug. The CCFA has many local chapters that have support groups around the country. No groups local to you, or can't get out to a group? The CCFA's Power of 2 Program can put you in touch with a peer (whether that's a person with IBD or a caregiver for a person with IBD) that can talk to you by phone, email, or Skype.

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Find A Doctor Resources

Sometimes you need to find a new member of your medical team and there are resources to help you find the right one. Image © Steve Debenport / E+ / Getty Images

Whether you have moved, or it's time for a change, it happens from time to time that you need to find a new healthcare professional. You can ask for referrals from your current healthcare team, but in some cases that might not be an option. The good news is that there are several online doctor finders that can help you find a healthcare professional in your area. Your insurance company may also have a resource for this, for which you can go to their web site or call the phone number on the back of your insurance card.

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MotherToBaby: Medications During Pregnancy and More

Pregnant Woman
Concerned about your IBD medications during pregnancy? There's a free resource that can help you with your decision making. Image © Ragnar Schmuck / fStop / Getty Images

For women and men with IBD who want to have biological children, there are many questions to be answered, including which medications may affect an unborn child or a nursing baby. That's where this resource comes in to provide information and support. MotherToBaby has several fact sheets online that can help when it comes to medications, but they also have experts available to chat via the phone, text, email, or live chat. They have special expertise when it comes to patients who have IBD, and the service is both free and confidential.

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Pillbox From the National Institutes of Health

Asacol tablets
An example of one of the images that are available from Pillbox, which is a site created by the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Image © Pillbox

This handy tool has all sorts of applications for people with IBD or who have any chronic illness that requires the use of various medications. It is not going to replace the care your physicians or your pharmacist can give in regards to your medications, but it is a really handy reference tool. You can search for a medication by name or ingredient, or even by the number imprinted on the pill, the color, the size, the inactive ingredient, or if it has one or more scores (an indent in the pill). In some cases, supplements are also in the database (such as psyllium husk).  One you find the medication you're looking for, not only will you be shown (in most cases) a photo of the medication, but also package photos and links to more such as manufacturers and clinical trials. Injectable and infused medications, however, are not available in this database.

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