Tips for Creating a Crohn’s Disease Self-Care Routine

Posted By Author on February 6, 2024

Navigating life with Crohn’s disease often requires careful planning. With abdominal pain and frequent bathroom visits to contend with, many patients find that even everyday outings are complicated by this inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). In addition to the physical toll Crohn’s disease takes on the body, it also impacts patients’ overall wellbeing – especially when unpleasant symptoms make leaving the house nearly impossible.

Here at Charleston GI, our board-certified gastroenterologists want to provide you with the tools needed to take back control. By managing your condition effectively, patients not only enjoy symptom relief but the freedom to enjoy life again.  

Keep reading to learn more about creating a Crohn’s disease self-care plan, then schedule an appointment with a GI specialist in Charleston, SC today!

Crohn’s Disease awareness, Crohn’s Disease Self-Care Routine

What is Crohn’s Disease? 

Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease that causes tissue swelling throughout different regions of the digestive tract, most often the small intestine. Swelling can lead to uncomfortable symptoms, like abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, and other potentially life-threatening complications. 

Crohn’s Disease Symptoms 

Signs and symptoms of Crohn’s disease can range from mild to severe. While symptom onset is typically gradual, it is possible for them to arrive quite suddenly and without warning. There can also be periods of time where symptoms are not noticed at all, called remission.

When Crohn’s disease is active, symptoms include: 

  • Diarrhea 
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Abdominal pain and cramping
  • Blood in your stool
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Mouth sores
  • Nausea and vomiting

Causes Behind Crohn’s Disease

Despite extensive research, the exact cause of Crohn’s disease remains unknown. It is possible that a virus or bacterium may trigger the condition, but this has yet to be confirmed. While it can also occur as the result of genetics, most people who suffer from Crohn’s disease do not have a family history of the condition. 

If you are experiencing symptoms of Crohn’s disease, schedule an appointment with a GI doctor near you as soon as possible. 

Why is Crohn’s Disease Self-Care Important? 

Crohn’s disease was initially assumed to be the result of high stress levels and dietary concerns. But research has revealed that these factors do not actually cause Crohn’s disease, but instead, aggravate its symptoms. 

Symptoms of Crohn’s disease can make it difficult to go about your daily routine, adding stress to otherwise fun outings – like trying a new restaurant or celebrating a birthday. Developing a Crohn’s disease self-care routine can help reduce symptoms, limit the frequency of flare-ups, and improve your overall quality of life. 

Since Crohn’s disease impacts everyone differently, your self-care routine will likely be just as unique. So don’t get discouraged if a technique that is successful for one person doesn’t work for you. It is important to discuss your specific symptoms with your Charleston GI doctor to find the routine that best fits your condition and your lifestyle.

10 Tips for Your Crohn’s Disease Self-Care Journey

Finding a Crohn’s disease self-care routine can help you to manage your symptoms – with relief often promoting a positive shift in mental and physical health. While a self-care routine looks different for everyone, these ten tips are recommended to set you on the right path to relief. Your Crohn’s disease self-care journey starts today! 

1. Stay on Top of Your Medication. 

Taking the medication prescribed by your GI doctor can help to prevent flare-ups, reduce pain and keep symptoms in check. If you have difficulties remembering to stick to your medication schedule, try these tips to stay on track: 

  • Set an alarm on your phone.
  • Try pill organizers.
  • Download a medication reminder app on your mobile device. 

2. Find an Eating Plan That Works For You. 

While there is no specific diet plan for Crohn’s disease, maintaining a balanced diet of vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, and whole grains has shown to provide symptom relief. Other foods, though, are known to cause inflammation. 

Trigger foods that may cause a Crohn’s disease flare-up include:

  • Dairy products 
  • Spicy foods
  • Greasy foods
  • High-fiber foods
  • Carbonated beverages

Some people with Crohn’s disease note that eating small meals throughout the day can also prevent flare-ups. Before starting a diet or drastically changing your dietary habits, make sure to consult your Charleston GI specialist first.

3. Stay Hydrated. 

Due to frequent episodes of diarrhea, dehydration is a common symptom of Crohn’s disease patients – one that may even cause other symptoms to intensify. Drinking plenty of water will not only replenish your body’s water levels, but can also help: 

  • Ease joint pain
  • Stabilize mood
  • Decrease inflammation
  • Rid the body of toxic waste 

4. Surround Yourself with Support.

Despite developing a routine and avoiding triggers, those suffering from Crohn’s disease benefit greatly from a strong support system. Living with a chronic condition can be debilitating, but receiving help and encouragement from loved ones can make a major difference. Studies support this, showing a link between higher social support and a higher quality of life.

5. Try to Stay Active.

In the midst of a flare-up, exercising is likely the last thing you’d like to do. But moving your body, even gently, has many benefits to your well-being. A walk around the block or a slow yoga flow can result in the following:

  • Increased blood flow and oxygen to the intestines
  • Healthier immune system response
  • Stronger muscles
  • Reduced stress

6. Prioritize Sleep. 

Getting enough sleep can help your body recover, improve cognition, and support a healthy immune system. Prioritizing rest can also help keep symptoms of Crohn’s disease at bay. If you have trouble sleeping, try one of these easy adjustments: 

  • Dim the lights before bed
  • Limit technology use right before bed
  • Develop a consistent nighttime routine
  • Avoid caffeine in the hours prior to going to sleep 

7. Take Time to Focus on Your Mental Health 

Anxiety, depression, and stress can develop as a result of Crohn’s disease, and while unpleasant on their own, these conditions may also increase symptoms. Taking the time to focus on your mental health is key.

Our GI specialists recommend integrating the following:

  • Writing or reading
  • Listening to music or podcasts
  • Practicing deep breathing exercises
  • Meditating
  • Meeting with a support group 

8. Expect the Unexpected. 

Because you never know exactly when a flare-up will occur, a little bit of preparation can go a long way. Keeping a Crohn’s kit in your car or in your bag is one helpful strategy that can provide peace of mind. Include these items:

  • Spare clothes
  • Personal hygiene products (wet wipes, cream, etc.) 
  • Antibacterial wipes or hand sanitizer 
  • A gallon-sized bag for soiled items
  • Toilet paper 

9. Identify Triggers and Actively Avoid Them.

Understanding what triggers a Crohn’s flare-up can drastically improve your day-to-day life. Keep a journal or a list on your phone to track your symptoms so you can make note of any patterns that emerge. Over time, you’ll likely learn what activities or foods to avoid.

10. Consult Your GI Doctor. 

Developing a Crohn’s disease self-care routine can help you to manage your symptoms, but personal research can only take you so far. Maintaining open communication with a Charleston GI doctor you trust can make sure you’re informed about your condition and taking the necessary steps to manage symptoms – so you can take back your life!

Looking for Relief? Contact Charleston GI Today!

Living with Crohn’s disease can impact your physical and mental health, but there’s no need to suffer in silence. Developing a Crohn’s disease self-care routine can help you to manage your symptoms and enjoy a higher quality of life. 

Whether you are just starting out on your Crohn’s disease journey or believe your symptoms may be related to the condition, the first step is scheduling an appointment with one of our board-certified gastroenterologists. 

We have four convenient Charleston area locations available, serving locals throughout West Ashley, Mount Pleasant, Summerville, and Carnes Crossroads.

There’s no referral needed, so schedule your appointment today!

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