Reviewed by Andrew Seibert on December 08, 2011


Douglas C. Wolf, MD, Medical Director of Clinical Research at Atlanta Gastroenterology Associates. Tracie Dalessandro, MS, RD, CDN, author, “What To Eat With IBD.”Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America.

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Video Transcript

Narrator: You may not be able to eliminate all flares, but you can take steps to reduce their frequency and impact. Stay as physically active as possible in order to keep your immune system strong. Keep a food-and-symptom journal to help identify which foods seem to worsen your symptoms. And try stress-reducers, like meditation or reading. Most importantly, Be sure to take all medications exactly as your doctor has ordered. But if a flare should develop in spite of your best efforts…

Douglas C. Wolf, MD: Typically it's best for the patient to contact their doctor so that they can get some direct advice in managing it. And sometimes it is an increase of a dose of the medication that they're on, sometimes it's the addition of another medication and sometimes it's the use of an over-the-counter medication that may be specific for gastrointestinal symptoms and it may be a medication that's used for other things and still might be helpful, such as acetaminophen or benadryl — something like that.

Narrator: But avoid taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Ibuprofen or Naproxen—unless specifically instructed by your doctor. NSIDs have been known to trigger flares in some patients. When you do sense impending GI distress, it's important to eliminate those personal triggers you've already identified.

Jeff Stewart: When my symptoms are active and in a flare, the things I do typically try to avoid food-wise are caffeine and other stimulants, particularly coffee seems to aggravate my symptoms more than most other things and things that are very high in cellulose or roughage. So, green leafy vegetables are very problematic or fibrous things such as skins of fruit — hard fruit — things like that.

Narrator: Another key while flaring is to take in an adequate amount of fluids that won't worsen your symptoms — water may not always be the best choice.

Tracie Dalessandro, MS, RD, CDN: When you're not having acute diarrhea, water is a great source of hydration, but when you're having acute diarrhea sometime we have to have what is called isotonic beverages. An isotonic beverage means that they're balanced in terms of the solutes in the fluid. So in order to have that kind of balance in the fluid you need to probably dilute sports drinks because it has enough sodium or potassium, or electrolytes, to help balance that intake in the gut.

Jeff Stewart: Maintaining a level of hydration for yourself that allows you to, you know, be safe and function effectively and yet doesn't exacerbate your condition and exacerbate the diarrhea. It's something that's a challenge but it's something that's very valuable to work on.

Narrator: Equally valuable — learning to pay attention to your body's signals — a key to taking countermeasures at the first sign of trouble. For WebMD, I'm Damon Meharg.