There are so many things to do and not to do when you have IBD (inflammatory bowel disease). In my experience, these are the top 8 things to avoid when you have IBD:
1. Stress - While there is no known cause of IBD stress can definitely be a trigger. Now you are probably thinking "How in the heck am I supposed to avoid stress? That's impossible!" While I know it's hard to avoid stress completely, reducing stress can be a great benefit to you. Everyone has different ways of reducing stress. For some, including myself, it's by exercise. Others reduce stress by reading or watching TV. Find something that works for you.
2. NSAIDS (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) - This is a big one. Many gastro's advise their patients to avoid long-term NSAID use because they can cause serious adverse affects in people with IBD. They can cause ulcers in the stomach and first part of the small intestine, and they can worsen bleeding and inflammation. I have firsthand experienc with this, and let me tell you, it's not fun.
3. Certain Foods - Now this varies from person to person. While certain foods don't cause IBD they can trigger a flare or cause discomfort and worsen diarhea. It's important to find what foods work for you and what don't. While you are trying to figure this out, keep a food journal to help you out.
4. Dehydration - It is so important to be aware of dehydration when you have IBD. Because of all the lovely bathroom trips that come along with flares, it's essential to make sure you are getting enough liquid every day.
5. A sedentary lifestyle - This is going to vary from person to person, and it's also going to depend on whether you're having a flare or not. For me, before I had surgery, I was very active. I went to the gym 3-4 times a week and also did yoga. When I had a flare though, I couldn't do as much and cut back on most of my exercise until I felt better. Find what works for you. Some sort of exercise is important though, not only because it's good for your body, but because it's good for your mind too. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins which not only put you in a better mood, but help with stress as well.
6. Malnutrition - When you have IBD and are having a flare, it is really easy to become malnourished. You don't have an appetite. You are in pain. You are constantly running to the bathroom. Because it is so easy to become malnourished it is essential to get the nutrients you need in some way. It helps to eat small meals throughout the day. Find nutritional food you can tolerate. Drink protein drinks. Take supplements in pill form.
7. Isolation - Having a disease like Crohn's Disease or Ulcerative Colitis can be very isolating. People who haven't experienced these diseases just simply don't understand what it's like. Not only that, quite frankly, it can be embarrassing! However, isolating yourself will only make things worse. Find an IBD, J-pouch, or Chronic Illness support group. I go to one, and let me tell you, it is so helpful to talk to other people who understand what you are going through!
8. Smoking - Especially if you have Crohn's. People who smoke, or who have smoked in the past, have a higher risk of developing Crohn's than those who don't smoke. Crohn's disease patients have a higher risk of relapses and repeat surgeries. Interestingly enough, in patients with ulcerative colitis, nicotine has been shown to have a positive short-term effect on those having a flare. I AM NOT TELLING YOU TO SMOKE PEOPLE! I'm just saying, there is research going on now on the effectiveness of nicotine patches in controlling flares in patients with UC.
Well, that's all I've got for now...stay tuned for more.