Finding out you have Crohn's disease is a life changing diagnosis. Crohn's is a serious chronic disease that impacts your gastrointestinal tract and can reduce your quality of life.
Fortunately, with the right medical care and a lifestyle plan designed to prevent flare-ups of your Crohn's disease, you can live an active and comfortable lifestyle with minimal symptoms. Learn from Thomas Nguyen, MD, from Nguyen Medical Group in Boynton Beach, Florida, what lifestyle changes you can make that will help you manage your Crohn's disease.
What is Crohn's disease?
Crohn's disease is a chronic disease that causes inflammation in your digestive tract. The condition can impact your small intestine, large intestine, colon, or all of these areas.
Your Crohn's disease can range from mild to severe, potentially causing no symptoms at times and mild to severe symptoms on other occasions. During a flare-up of Crohn's disease, you might experience symptoms such as diarrhea, cramping and pain in your abdomen, blood in your stool, anal pain, reduced appetite, weight loss, and fever.
Unmanaged, Crohn's disease can cause more serious symptoms like kidney stones and anemia. It can also cause complications ranging from bowel obstruction to ulcers to colon cancer.
Lifestyle changes that help with Crohn's disease
There is no cure for Crohn's disease, but with the right lifestyle choices, you can minimize your risk of experiencing distressing flare-ups and of developing complications. Our clinical team develops a personalized Crohn's disease management plan that might include some or all of these lifestyle habits.
A colon-friendly diet
Eating a careful diet is one of your best offenses against Crohn's disease flare-ups. If you’re experiencing a flare-up, eating a restrictive diet helps minimize or end the flare, while you might be able to eat a greater variety of foods when you’re not experiencing active symptoms.
The foods that trigger your Crohn's disease can vary, and our team might recommend a food journal when you’re learning to manage your condition to see which foods cause your flare-ups. These are some of the most common triggering foods and beverages:
- Carbonated drinks
- Caffeinated beverages
- Dairy products, including butter and margarine
- Foods high in fiber
- Food that causes gas and bloating, such as lentils
- Raw fruit and vegetables
- Spicy food
- Red meat
Instead, focus on eating a diet of foods that don’t trigger your Crohn's disease. At some points when you’re experiencing more severe symptoms, you also might benefit from a medically supervised high calorie liquid diet.
Stress doesn’t make you develop Crohn's disease, but it can make your flare-ups worse after you already have the condition. Learning relaxation and stress management techniques, and aiming to reduce stress from your life as much as possible, can help minimize your bowel and digestive symptoms.
Avoiding smoking and certain medications
If you currently smoke, quitting or reducing your smoking will reduce your risk of developing flare-ups and complications of Crohn's disease. Taking NSAIDs like ibuprofen can also irritate your intestinal linings, so try taking acetaminophen for pain management instead.
Regular medical check-ins
If you start experiencing signs of a Crohn's disease flare-up, let our medical team know right away. Our team can help determine what caused the flare-up and develop a plan to help end it quickly and minimize your risk of experiencing the same trigger again.
Crohn's disease isn’t always an easy disease to live with, but a lifestyle routine planned with our team keeps your symptoms under control. For a Crohn's disease diagnosis or chronic disease management support, contact us for an appointment today.