Even with the proper medical treatment, individuals with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) will experience occasional flare-ups. During an IBD flare-up, the disease becomes active and the characteristic symptoms of IBD, such as abdominal cramping, diarrhea, and urgent bowel movements can resume or intensify.
The primary goal of treatment for IBD is to increase the amount of time spent in remission, a low-disease state. This leaves many patients wondering what to do in the event of a flare-up. One of the most important ways in which patients can manage the severity and duration of their symptoms is through their diet.
Dietary Management of IBD Flare-ups
Slight dietary alterations can be very effective at relieving the discomforting symptoms associated with IBD flare-ups. Though adequate nutrition is paramount throughout the treatment process, the following modifications can help make a flare-up a bit more bearable:
- Eat smaller, more frequent meals
- Incorporate omega-3 fatty acids, which have an anti-inflammatory effect
- Decrease alcohol consumption
- Decrease consumption of concentrated sweets, which can contribute to diarrhea
- Reduce foods that increase stool output, such as fresh fruits and vegetables and caffeinated beverages
Following a flare-up, individuals are particularly susceptible to nutritional deficiency. These simple dietary strategies should be used to gradually increase the quantity and variety of your nutrient uptake:
- Begin with tolerated liquids to progress to soft solid foods
- Add fiber sources, including vegetables, canned fruits, and starches
- Increase your protein intake
- Add a variety of whole grains, low-fat and non-fat dairy products
If at any point you experience a prolonged loss of appetite or inability to tolerate solid foods, dietary supplements may be used to prevent nutritional deficiency. You should always consult with a physician experienced in the treatment of IBD before attempting a supplement.
Are Flare-ups Preventable?
While there is no single way to prevent a flare-up, individuals with IBD can minimize their risk of a flare-up by taking certain precautions. Remember, medications for IBD should always be taken as directed by your doctor. Even in times of remission or mild symptoms, IBD medications can be used to keep flare-ups in check.
Some studies have identified risk factors that can increase the frequency or severity of flare-ups. Avoiding the following triggers may help to keep your IBD in a state of remission:
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
If you have been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, you are likely to experience periodic flare-ups. Being aware of your symptoms, possible triggers, and preventive solutions can help reduce the intensity and duration of your IBD flare-ups and increase your time spent in remission.
Contact an IBD Specialist in Beverly Hills
The IBD Center of Excellence in Beverly Hills offers a team of world-renowned gastroenterologists and colorectal surgeons who have trained at some of the top medical schools and residencies in the country. Our extensive experience in the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease, coupled with a highly individualized approach, helps us to deliver compassionate and effective care to each patient.
For more information on IBD, or to schedule a consultation with one of our physicians, please call (888) 421-4172.