Tips to manage inflammatory bowel disease in everyday life

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) can affect almost every aspect of a person’s life – from what they eat to their social interaction. Diarrhea, fever, fatigue, abdominal pain, or cramping, unexplained weight loss and blood in the stools are some of the common symptoms of IBD. The disease usually manifests as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the gastrointestinal tract, while ulcerative colitis is a chronic inflammatory condition of the large intestine and rectum.

People suffering from IBD go through several challenges ranging from abdominal bloating, gas, and chronic diarrhea to skin problems, says Dr. Abdel Rahman Ahmed Omer, Consultant – Colorectal Surgeon.  He stresses on dietary restrictions and lifestyle management as key approaches to keeping IBD in check, and offers simple recommendations that can help people suffering from IBD deal with their disease on a more positive note. These include:

Avoiding some foods
Certain foods can trigger symptoms of both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. These include spicy foods, alcohol and caffeine. People who are lactose intolerant may also have abdominal pain and gas from consuming dairy products. Low-fat foods are recommended as people with Crohn’s often find it hard to digest fats; hence fried foods, cream sauces and butter are best avoided.

High fiber foods, including fresh fruit, vegetables and whole grains, may make IBD symptoms worse. It’s best to avoid raw fruits and vegetables, as they could irritate the stomach. Foods in the cabbage family such as broccoli and cauliflower, nuts, seeds, corn and popcorn should also be restricted.

Eating small meals during the day is also recommended compared to three big meals. Hydration is also important for patients with chronic diarrhea, as dehydration is often seen in patients. People with IBD should also take a multivitamin, pre and probiotics, and mineral supplements, as their bodies cannot assimilate nutrients easily.

De-stressing regularly
Stress is a big factor in IBD, which is an auto-immune disorder. It can trigger symptoms and flare ups. An easy way to de-stress is to use breathing techniques, meditation, deep, slow breathing and yoga to calm down.

Adding exercise to your day
Moderate exercise is the best form of exercise for IBD sufferers. Yoga andwalks are stress relieving exercising.  High-impact workouts tend to exacerbate symptoms and cause fatigue.

Informing and educating people

People suffering from gas, or diarrhea caused by IBD find it embarrassing to go out and often avoid social contact. Hence, it is important to discuss the implications of the disease with family and friends, so they can provide the needed support and understanding. 

Dr. Omer says these tips can go a long way in managing IBD.

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