Ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn’s disease, the two most common forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), can cause frustrating symptoms like diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, weight loss, and fatigue.
Trips away from home can be logistically and physically challenging for people with IBD. Travelers with UC and Crohn’s can experience symptomatic flare-ups during their journeys due to infections, changes in dietary habits, and missed doses of medication.
But your diagnosis shouldn’t keep you from living your life to the fullest. To support IBD patients in managing their symptoms and enjoying their travels, a new travel website has been launched. Founded by Kay Greveson, an IBD nurse specialist from London, and directed by Prof. Shomron Ben-Horin, Director of the Institute of Gastroenterology and the IBD service clinic at Sheba, the IBD passport offers a wealth of practical resources and advice, from tips on managing symptoms while on the road to finding IBD-friendly accommodations.
“There was an unmet need for a support program to facilitate travel for IBD patients,” explained Kay Greveson. She decided to present the idea of the IBD Passport to Prof. Ben-Horin, who was working on a similar concept through the European Crohn’s and Colitis Organization. Together, they decided to join forces and establish a platform as a nonprofit charity registered in the U.K.
According to Prof. Ben-Horin, the IBD Passport is designed to provide a one-stop support platform for IBD travelers. “The free website includes updated IBD-specific travel information, such as country-specific vaccine requirements, dietary tips, insurance advice, recommendations for carrying SOS antibiotics when traveling to tropical destinations, using them judiciously in areas with limited access to healthcare, as well as tips for those with ostomy on how to minimize discomfort and prepare for air travel, taking into account the changing air pressure.”
The advice provided on the IBD Passport website is tailored to the individual needs of each patient, as both Kay Greveson and Prof. Ben-Horin believe that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Additionally, the website features a network of more than 340 IBD specialty centers around the world that have partnered with the IBD Passport to offer care to patients abroad.
Kay Greveson and Prof. Ben-Horin also emphasize the significance of careful planning to ensure a comfortable and stress-free journey for IBD patients traveling abroad, particularly those taking biologics. To avoid any undue anxiety, they advise allowing sufficient time for preparations and avoiding hasty arrangements.
Taking into account the unique challenges faced by IBD patients, Kay Greveson and Prof. Shomron Ben-Horin highlight the importance of addressing potential risk factors that may arise during travel. This includes considering the destination’s climate, accessibility to healthcare facilities, and availability of medical supplies. For instance, it is important to take extra precautions in areas with higher risk for infectious diseases or limited access to medical care. Proper planning and awareness of potential risks can help IBD patients make informed decisions and reduce anxiety during their travels.
The IBD Passport website has been a valuable resource for thousands of patients who travel for various reasons, including business, studies, or leisure. Apart from providing practical information on travel-related issues for IBD patients, the website also offers downloadable forms for healthcare providers. Kay Greveson emphasizes the importance of traveling as an integral part of modern life, stating that it is crucial to remove barriers and help IBD patients travel with ease.
At Sheba, we believe that by adopting a holistic approach to healthcare, medical professionals can help patients achieve a higher quality of life and overall well-being. As a world-class healthcare center, Sheba is poised to provide ongoing solutions for all medical needs throughout an individual’s life.