A Change In Seasons May Cause IBD Flare-Ups

An Inflammatory Response May Cause A Flare In The Fall Or The Spring

Changing Seasons
Does your IBD give you problems when the seasons change? There could be a reason for that, but it's still a controversial subject. Image © Henglein and Steets / Cultura / Getty Images

A flare-up of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) can happen at just about any time. During the difficult time of a flare-up we often ask ourselves: Why do flare-ups happen? Why did THIS flare-up happen? Relapses can happen for any number of reasons, such as stopping a medication, a stressful event, or becoming run down from another illness or condition. In some cases, there may not be a ready explanation and we may never know what precipitated the flare.

But Can A Change Of Season Cause An IBD Flare?

Some people with IBD notice that they have a flare when the weather changes in the fall or in the spring. There is a controversial theory that links these seasonal flare-ups to an Immunoglobulin E (IgE)-mediated allergic response.

IgE is a special type of protein, called an immunoglobulin, which can help the body fight off disease. The purpose of IgE is to bind itself to an antigen (a substance that activates the production of antibodies). By doing so, IgE will cause the inactivation or removal of the offending toxin, microbe, or foreign substance.

IgE tends to attach itself to receptors on mast cells. If these mast cells are activated by an allergen, such as pet dander, they release histamine, heparin, cytokines, leukotrienes, and other chemicals. The end result is an allergic response with allergy symptoms, such as a runny nose.

The presence of leukotrienes in particular causes a problem because it attracts a type of white blood cell called an "eosinophil." These special white blood cells fight off the allergic response, but the chemicals that they use to do so are toxic to the body as well as to the invading allergen.

The Connection Between Eosinophils And IBD

Eosinophils have a particular connection to IBD. Eosinophils release four toxic compounds when they do their work. Studies have shown that three of these four compounds tend to be found in the stool of people with active IBD in greater amounts than they are in the stool of people who do not have IBD.


We all encounter many potential allergens in our everyday lives: tree pollen, pet dander, dust, chemicals -- the list is almost endless. Some researchers think that allergens in the environment lead to the IgE-mediated response, which in turn triggers an IBD flare-up. It’s still a controversial theory, however. While some research reports have found an increase in IBD patients reporting flare-ups in the spring or in the fall, other studies have found that there is no seasonal trend in IBD flares. However, if you are one of those people who tends to flare-up during the change in seasons, the phenomena is very real to you.

Tips To Prevent An IBD Flare-Up


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