7 Tips for Keeping Crohn's Disease in Remission

  • You can keep Crohn’s at bay.
    Crohn's disease is usually characterized by flares followed by periods of remission. During remission, a person may be symptom free for months or even years. While it's not realistic to prevent all flares, some healthy habits help prolong remission and keep you feeling better longer. Here's what you can do to help keep Crohn's symptoms at bay.

  • 1. Medicate, even when you feel great.
    Taking your medications as prescribed—even while you're symptom free—is the number one thing you can do to manage your Crohn's disease. Remember, missed or incorrect doses can sometimes trigger flares. If you're bothered by side effects, ask your doctor about alternative medications.

  • 2. Find your happy place.
    While additional research on the topic is needed, some studies suggest that feeling too stressed out for too long can trigger a flare-up in people with Crohn's disease. To ease your mind, find coping strategies that work for you such as exercise, meditation, progressive relaxation, counseling, or spending time with friends.

  • 3. Be wary in the pharmacy aisle.
    Over-the-counter medications may seem harmless. But anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen (Advil), naproxen (Aleve), and aspirin can irritate the digestive tract and trigger Crohn's symptoms. Before taking a new medicine or supplement, check with your doctor to ensure it's safe and won't interact with your other medications.

  • 4. Kick the cigarette habit.
    Research suggests that smokers with Crohn's disease experience flares at up to twice the rate of nonsmokers. Risk is highest in people who have had surgical treatment for Crohn's and those who smoke 10 or more cigarettes a day. By contrast, one year after quitting, former smokers have similar flare-up rates to nonsmokers.

  • 5. Avoid food triggers.
    There's no evidence that food causes Crohn's disease or worsens inflammation in the digestive tract. However, once the disease has started, certain foods seem to trigger symptoms in certain people. To pinpoint what sets you off, consider tracking your food intake and symptom patterns with a food diary.

  • 6. Go easy on the alcohol.
    Like some foods, alcohol can irritate the digestive tract, causing Crohn's symptoms to flare. Even if you tolerate alcohol, it's a good idea to check in with your doctor or pharmacist for potential medication interactions. If you do imbibe, limit yourself to the occasional drink or two.

  • 7. Ask about tube feeding.
    Enteral nutrition delivers high-protein, high-calorie liquid either orally or through a nasal feeding tube directly to the stomach. Supplementing a normal diet with tube feeding may help lengthen remission in some adults with Crohn's disease. Your dietitian can help you decide whether this approach makes sense for you.

7 Tips for Keeping Crohn's Disease in Remission
  1. Alhagamhmad M, et al. An Update of the Role of Nutritional Therapy in the Management of Crohn's Disease.  J Gastroenterol. 2012;47(8):872-82. 
  2. Cabre E, Domenech E. Impact of Environmental and Dietary Factors on the Course of Inflammatory Bowel Disease. World J Gastroenterol. 2012;18(29):3814-22.
  3. Diet, Nutrition and IBD. Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America. http://www.ccfa.org/assets/pdfs/diet-nutrition-2013.pdf
  4. Managing Flares. Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America. http://www.ccfa.org/assets/pdfs/flares_brochure_final.pdf
  5. Living with Crohn's Disease and Colitis. Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America. http://www.ccfa.org/living-with-crohns-colitis/
  6. Smoking and IBD. Crohn's & Colitis UK. http://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/files.crohnsandcolitis.org.uk/Publications/smoking-and-IBD.pdf
  7. Staying Well with IBD. Crohn's & Colitis UK. http://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/files.crohnsandcolitis.org.uk/Publications/staying-well-with-IBD.p...
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Last Review Date: 2018 May 21
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