IBD and Medical Alert Bracelets

I am sure we have all heard about medical alert bracelets at least once in our lives. We hear them spoken about most often when someone has a severe allergy or has had a surgical implantation of some kind that a medical professional would need to be aware of. The truth is that medical alert bracelets (necklaces, etc) can and have saved countless lives.

So, should a person who suffers from ulcerative colitis or crohns disease wear a medical alert bracelet?

If you are looking for an “all size fits all” answer to that question, I would probably lean more towards NO but that would be far from the correct response. The purpose of a medical alert bracelet is if God forbid you are unable to speak for yourself (and are not with anyone who knows your medical situation), the people who are in charge of your care know everything possible in order to avoid giving you any medications or performing any dangerous procedures or operations that could put you in harm’s way. If a physician is unaware of a medication you are on and gives you something that may interact with it, there could be negative consequences. Or, if a doctor is not aware of a surgical procedure you had and doesn’t take the proper steps to ensure that a specialist is taking care of things on that end, you might end up running into trouble.

Throughout the past 12 and a half years, I was told to wear a medical alert bracelet twice. The first being when I was on mega doses of prednisone and the second when I had a kock pouch. I never bothered the first time, although in hindsight I should have and would recommend anyone who is taking prednisone or any type of steroid to ask their physician.

I did wear the medical alert bracelet when I had a kock pouch. My surgeon is the farthest from an alarmist and sternly told me he wanted to see me wearing one no later than my first post op appointment. The kock pouch, also known as a continent ileostomy, is similar to a BCIR pouch. Most physicians are not familiar with this type of surgery and at first glance many doctors will think it is a regular ileostomy which is how a few of my surgeon’s patients lost their pouches.

The decision to wear a medical alert bracelet if you have inflammatory bowel disease is really your own. There are some circumstances where I would strongly recommend it but in my mind, it is really for your own personal comfort level. I felt better when I had a kock pouch knowing I had one on. I trusted my surgeon so much so when he told me I needed to have one that was all I needed to hear. I don’t wear one now because I simply do not feel the need.

I also want to remind everyone that these bracelets are personalized so you can have them say whatever you want them to. You can also hide the inscription very easily. Over the years my bracelet has caught the attention of people I wish it didn’t who have literally grabbed my wrist so they could get a good look at what exactly it said and I always managed to keep it private.

It is really no big deal to wear them just as a little extra support if you are someone who tends to get worried.  Also might be worth a quick two minute conversation with your doctor. He/She might tell you that your situation doesn’t really require it and then you can have peace of mind. Or the reverse might be true.

  • valerie Starshak

    I believe that they also sell them as a charm of some sort to wear on a chain around your neck. My daughter has a mental illness and she was in a program where they were required to wear one.

    Especially, when one sees many doctors, it’s important that everyone involved knows what medications the patient is taking and what they are being treated for.

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