When you have a flare-up of your ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s Disease, you may be quick to blame that big meal you had or that double venti coffee with espresso you had that morning. In reality, though, while many things can trigger a flare-up, many flare-ups just happen, with no predictability.
Taking your medications and following the doctor’s orders are imperative to managing your condition. That said, there are a few bad habits you may want to cut out in order to keep those flare-ups under control. Here are some common mistakes you may be making:
1. Skipping medications
Whether your doctor has prescribed anti-inflammatory drugs, an immunosuppressant, or a combination, they won’t work properly if you skip doses. This is one of the biggest reasons people have flare-ups. Adhere to your treatment protocol at all times, even if you’re feeling OK.
2. Ignoring stress
Stress can bring on a flare-up, so do your best to keep stress levels down. Try yoga, meditation, or relaxation therapy. Get more sleep, meet a friend to talk, go for a walk each day – anything that keeps you feeling calm is good.
3. Eating poorly
While there are no food groups that you definitely have to stay away from with ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s, there are a few foods here and there that you should think twice before consuming. Keep a journal and write down the foods that cause digestive issues. Stay away from them, sticking with low-fiber and nutrient-rich foods. Nix the raw veggies, beans, whole grains, nuts and seeds – anything that causes your bowels to work over time.
4. Not drinking enough fluids
Always have a glass of water by your side. Becoming dehydrated can interfere with your body’s overall function and ability to heal.
However, stay away from caffeine based products such as coffee and soda, as caffeine and sugar can irritate your digestive tract lining. And of course don’t have any prune juice. Plain water is best.
5. Eating big meals
To keep a steady and fluid volume of foods going through your system, stick with frequent small meals rather than three large ones a day. A good rule of thumb is five fist-sized meals every three to four hours. Eating frequently can also lessen the nausea that is often accompanied by ulcerative colitis and associated meds.
6. Not keeping a food diary
Everyone has their own set of foods that they believe bring on a flare-up. Keeping a food diary is a good idea as you can know which foods to avoid the next time. For example, dairy triggers reactions in many people, especially if you have ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s AND lactose intolerance.
7. You’re still smoking
Smoking increases the chances of developing Crohn’s in the first place, but it also increases your risk for flare-ups. Nix the habit now and you’ll feel a whole lot better. While you’re at it, consume alcohol in moderation.
8. Failure to treat infections
If you are taking antibiotics for colitis, they can aggravate your condition. If you experience diarrhea after taking an antibiotic, call your doctor to switch medications. Your doctor may also give you a probiotic, which can reduce antibiotic-related diarrhea.
9. Failure to be on the correct treatment plan
Your individual treatment plan is based on the severity of your condition and how you respond to meds. Your doctor will likely start you off with a mild treatment plan and go up from there if needed. Your doctor will also adjust your plan if you experience frequent flares and hospitalizations.
10. Failure to have a gastroenterology specialist on your side.
Your primary care physician can only do so much for you. In order to adequately manage and treat your Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis, you will need to see a specialist for regular
evaluation. In fact, you should have a whole team of doctors working for you, from surgeons to radiologists to nutritionists; however, your gastroenterologist should be your main point of contact when it comes to your condition.
We treat patients with Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis as well as a variety of other gastrointestinal diseases, including colon cancer, hepatitis, biliary diseases, esophageal disorders, and peptic ulcer disease. Our specialists can offer you more tips on how to best manage your condition, and work with you one-on- one to develop a workable treatment plan.
Call 681-342-3690 for an appointment with a gastroenterology specialist today.
Please note, the information provided throughout this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content, including text, graphics, images, and video, on or available through this website is for general information purposes only. If you are experiencing related symptoms, please visit your doctor or call 9-1-1 in an emergency.