There’s no cure for Crohn’s disease yet, but there are plenty of ways to keep it in check. Dr. Darrien Gaston at Metropolitan Gastroenterology Consultants in the Beverly neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois, expertly diagnoses and treats Crohn's disease.
He also recommends the following practical tips for all our patients looking to decrease the frequency and severity of Crohn’s flare-ups.
1. Take your medications as directed
Medication won’t cure Crohn’s disease, but it can significantly reduce the inflammation that triggers a flare-up and ease the pain and other symptoms.
Dr. Gaston may prescribe corticosteroids, immune system suppressants, biologics, or aminosalicylates, depending on your medical history and the severity of your symptoms. If you take medication to manage your Crohn’s symptoms, follow Dr. Gaston’s instructions to the letter for the best chance at curbing flare-ups.
Stress is a well-known trigger of Crohn’s disease flare-ups, so do your best to keep it to a minimum. Avoid unnecessary stressful situations when you can, and prepare your mind and body to deal better with those you can’t. For example, regular exercise and meditation can help you ward off excess stress.
3. Eat mindfully
Everything you eat and drink either helps or harms your Crohn’s gut. Because every person with Crohn’s is different, we can’t tell you exactly what to eat and what to avoid until you keep a food diary and determine your unique triggers.
Some of the most common foods that cause Crohn’s flare-ups include:
- Spicy foods
- Fatty or greasy foods
- Whole grain
- High-fiber foods
Once you figure out which ingredients lead to inflammation, diarrhea, bloody stools, abdominal pain, and urgent bowel movements, you can eliminate them from your diet and reduce your flare-ups.
4. Say no to NSAIDs
NSAIDs, also known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, are common pain relievers containing ibuprofen, naproxen, or acetaminophen. You may know them better by their brand names: Advil®, Aleve®, or Tylenol®. Although it seems like anything that lowers inflammation would be good for Crohn’s disease, these particular drugs also lower prostaglandins, a hormone that protects your gut from acid by amping up the amount of mucus in your stomach.
A lack of prostaglandins can cause stomach irritation and a Crohn’s flare-up, so stick with the medication Dr. Gaston prescribes.
5. Don’t smoke
If you don’t smoke, you can check this one off your list and consider yourself ahead of the game. But if you’re a smoker, quit now or risk worsening your Crohn’s disease flare-ups.
The chemicals in tobacco raise your risk of developing Crohn’s disease and trigger flare-ups in many people who have Crohn’s. Quitting not only reduces your flare-ups, but it may also decrease your need for medication.
To talk to Dr. Gaston about your Crohn’s disease flare-ups, call us at 773-245-0347 or schedule an appointment online.