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IBS spotlight living covid19

IBS and COVID-19

Since late 2019, COVID-19 has become a household name. It has changed many aspects of daily life, especially for those living with chronic conditions.

Where are we today?

"Quarantine," "social distancing," and "herd immunity" are now familiar terms. While most restrictions have been lifted, this varies from place to place. Many schools, offices, healthcare settings, travel, and social gathering places have new and different guidelines. Norms for wearing face masks also vary among specific groups of people.1,2

Experts have learned a lot about COVID-19 in a short time. And research is ongoing to find out how to best protect those at the highest risk. Also, effective vaccines have made a big difference in infection rates. While different areas may have different rates of infection, we are making progress. Quick testing, isolation precautions, treatments, and vaccines are all part of the bigger picture.1

Vaccine progress

Vaccines became available starting in late 2020. Even more are in development. The first vaccines were approved under Emergency Use Authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in December 2020. This made safe and effective vaccines available faster.3

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These vaccines get disease-fighting instructions to our cells in new ways. Some use messenger RNA technology. Others use different, harmless viruses. The most common side effects are pain, redness, and swelling at the injection site. Other common side effects are tiredness, muscle aches, fever, and headache. While these are common side effects, experiences can vary by person, and you should always contact your doctor if you have concerns about your side effects.4,5

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and FDA continue to provide up-to-date information on vaccines. These are great sources for reliable information.

A laptop with a telehealth logo on the screen

Living with a chronic condition in the COVID-19 era

The pandemic has been especially hard for those with chronic health conditions. Thankfully, we are finding new ways to provide healthcare, like telemedicine. This can be a safe and affordable alternative for care. These virtual appointments allow for basic check-ups without leaving the house.6

However, along with positive changes, there are still downsides to telehealth. These include fewer screenings, issues with technology, and lack of exercise. And for some, in-person visits are crucial but still have not happened since the pandemic began. This has taken a toll on overall health and managing other conditions.7,8

Our community advocates have shared some of their experiences living with IBS in the time of COVID-19:

A plant being watered

Self-care and mental health

Mental health has also been impacted by COVID-19. Many have experienced stress, depression, anxiety, and more. Isolation, job loss, and not being able to take part in hobbies all decrease wellness.7

Now, more than ever, self-care is needed. Finding ways to reset and find joy is key to coping. Counseling may be able to help you adapt to the demands of the new era. Online counseling and support groups are great tools for managing complex emotions. Ultimately, self-care looks different from person to person. There is no right or wrong approach, as long as you keep making it a priority.

Our community advocates have shared how COVID-19 has impacted their mental health and emotional well-being:

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected you and your well-being? How are you coping? Tell us in the comments below.

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