Helping Prevent IBD Flares
You can’t completely prevent flare-ups of Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.
But you may be able to reduce the number or severity of flares and lengthen the
time spent in remission by adopting some healthy habits.
- Take all IBD medications regularly, as directed by your doctor.
- Eat a well-balanced diet. There is no universal diet for all people with IBD, because
each person will have unique needs. Nevertheless, proper nutrition is an essential
part of staying healthy and minimizing the effects of the diseases.
Everyone with IBD will benefit from a diet that provides the recommended number
of calories and contains essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. At the
same time, you should avoid foods that trigger symptoms. Because dietary issues
differ from person to person, you may want to get individualized help and instruction
from a registered dietitian.
- Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis can impair the body’s ability to absorb vitamins,
minerals, and other nutrients, consider taking a multi-vitamin or mineral supplement.
As always, be sure you consult your doctor about which are recommended (and safe)
for you to take.
- A regular exercise routine can improve overall health, and may be particularly beneficial
for people with IBD. Engaging in regular physical activity can reduce stress and
maintain and improve bone strength. Some research has also shown that it relieves
depression and boosts the body’s immune system response.
- If having IBD limits the amount and intensity of exercise you can undertake, keep
in mind that even low-intensity activities, like taking a 30-minute walk three times
a week, can produce results. Talk to your doctor to determine an exercise program
that works for you. If your symptoms make mobility difficult, find ways to be active
- If you smoke, quit. Smoking is harmful for many reasons, and it can worsen symptoms
of IBD. Quitting smoking has been suspected of triggering the onset of ulcerative
colitis or a flare in certain cases. However, with the multiple choices in medications,
continued smoking is not usually recommended. The benefits of quitting smoking likely
outweigh any potential colitis-related risks.
- Stress is a common trigger for symptom flare-ups. Of course, avoiding all stress
is impossible. In fact, focusing too heavily on stress can cause an anxiety response,
which has a tendency to aggravate symptoms, and cause even more stress.
- Stress reduction techniques can help you to stay calm, maintain perspective, and
break this anxiety cycle. There are numerous stress-management techniques, and no
one method has been proven to be more effective than another for everyone. Each
person needs to find their own healthy balance. Try an approach that appeals to
you; if that doesn’t work, don’t despair. Try another.
Stress reduction techniques
- Relaxation and breathing exercises
- Practicing yoga or tai chi
Cognitive brhavioral therapy