Top Ways to Make Your Crohn's Disease Flare

Doing any of These Things Could Result in Precipitating a Flare-Up

Keeping your Crohn's disease under control can feel like a full-time job. That's because it is. Avoiding potential triggers can help prevent a flare-up. You may be doing things that are detrimental to your health. Do you know what they are?


Cigarettes. Photo © hinnamsaisuy
Smoking cigarettes has a significant effect on Crohn's disease. The entire body is affected by smoking, including the digestive tract. Inhaled smoke enters the stomach and intestines as well as the lungs. Tobacco is a known digestive tract irritant that cause bloating, cramping, gas, and stomach rumbling.

Don't Drink Water

Water Ripples
Avoiding contaminated water while on vacation is important to avoiding travelers' diarrhea.. Photo © Carmen Dirica

If all you give your body all day is coffee and diet cola, you can't expect your digestive tract to treat you well. Water is essential to the good health of your entire body, as well helpful in preventing constipation and replacing fluids lost from diarrhea. Aim to have water as your main source of hydration, and keep fresh water nearby to encourage yourself to drink.

Don't Exercise

Exercise. Photo © Ambro

If you could spend 30 minutes a day doing something that would not only benefit your Crohn's disease by decreasing the severity of your symptoms but also improve your overall health -- …wouldn't you do it? That's what exercise can do. The U.S. Surgeon General recommends 30 minutes most days of the week. It doesn't have to be a contiguous 30 minutes; you can also do 3 episodes of 10 minutes, or 2 episodes of 15.

Ignore Stress

Stressed Woman
Stressed Woman. Photo © africa
Stress does not cause IBD, but it will worsen it. Everyone has stress of one form or another -- the important thing is your reaction to it. Turn stress into something positive: Use it to fuel your creativity and spur yourself into taking action on your problems. Don't let stress fester until it affects your health.

Eat Large Meals

Turkey Dinner
A turkey dinner with all the trimmings might not set well with your IBD.. Photo ©David Lat

We all love to eat, but eating 3 large meals a day is not the best strategy for optimal digestive health. Instead, try 5 or 6 smaller meals throughout the day. You won't have that heavy feeling after eating, and your body will receive a steady stream of fuel all day, instead of repeated spikes and dips in your blood sugar levels.

Skip Sleep

Sleep is important, but it can be hard to come by if your dreams about IBD are keeping you awake.. Photo © winnond

Most adults need 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night. Are you scheduling this amount into your day, every day? Maybe you have trouble getting to sleep, or staying asleep. Try practicing better sleep hygiene to improve the quantity and quality of your sleep. If you can manage it, try to schedule a nap here and there, especially if you're starting to feel run-down.

Eat Trigger Foods

Chili Pepper
Chili peppers are great, but they can cause diarrhea.. Photo © Petr Kratochvil

Trigger foods vary from person to person with Crohn's disease, but some basic themes are: fatty foods, fried foods, fibrous foods, and milk. Learn what your trigger foods are and how to avoid them. Trigger foods tend to be foods that are also favorites, but remember we eat to live, not live to eat.

Drink Alcoholic Beverages

Cocktail. Photo © Boaz Yiftach

This is a hard one, especially for younger people. But beer (which tends to be gassy), wine, and mixed drinks (which often contain other triggers such as fruit juice or caffeinated beverages) can be hard on the gastrointestinal tract. It can be difficult to avoid drinking when everyone around you is doing it, but you'll thank yourself in the morning if you don't.

Eat Processed Foods

Potato Chips
Potato Chips. Photo © Master isolated images

Processed foods often contain additives such as sugar or fat substitutes. Many of these artificial flavorings are known to be gastrointestinal irritants. Even people who do not have a diagnosed digestive condition may experience gas, diarrhea, bloating, and pain after eating food additives. Try to stick with whole, fresh foods. That is, foods that come from the meat, produce and dairy section in the grocery store, not those that come in boxes or bags.

Don't Seek Help

Support Advice And Help Dice
Support Advice And Help Dice. Photo © Stuart Miles
Help can come from friends, family, coworkers, and your health-care team. Seek help from those closest to you for ideas on how to stick to your treatment plan and reduce stress. Don't be afraid to accept support and good advice when it is offered from a trusted source.

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