Crohn's flare tips for symptom relief
By Kerry Weiss

Medically reviewed by Matthew J. Hamilton, MD

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When you have Crohn’s disease, you may experience periods of flares, where uncomfortable symptoms like diarrhea, abdominal cramping, and fatigue strike; with periods of remission, when you have no symptoms at all. If you’re currently experiencing a Crohn’s flare, there are certain steps you can take to find relief. Start with these strategies:

1. Call your doctor.

If you’re experiencing a flare, your doctor may want to do some tests to determine if there’s underlying inflammation occurring that needs to be treated. Depending on what your doctor discovers, you may be prescribed additional medication to take to help alleviate inflammation and relieve your symptoms.

2. Find out if OTC meds can help ease discomfort.

Aside from sticking with your prescribed Crohn’s treatment plan, taking certain over-the-counter medications can also help relieve Crohn’s symptoms during a flare—like antidiarrheals, pain relievers or digestive aids. Just be sure to clear any OTC medications with your doctor first before you take them, as some may actually irritate your digestive system or interfere with your prescription Crohn’s medications.

3. Adjust your diet.

When you’re in a flare, avoiding potential trigger foods and focusing on those that are more easily tolerated can help you find relief. It’s also essential to make dietary choices that provide your body with the nutrition it needs to get well. Stay away from foods that can exacerbate your symptoms, like:

  • Raw fruits and vegetables with skin and seeds
  • Dairy
  • Sugar and sugar-substitutes
  • Fatty, fried or greasy foods
  • Spicy foods
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Popcorn

Instead, eat foods that are easy-to-digest, like low-fiber fruits, non-cruciferous vegetables, lean protein and refined grains.

4. Consider joining a clinical research study.

If your Crohn’s disease flares up pretty regularly and you’re having trouble finding the right treatment to control your disease, talk to your doctor about joining a clinical research study. Clinical research studies are an essential step in finding new treatment options that can help more people with Crohn’s gain control of their condition.

Currently, IBDiscover’s clinical research studies ADVANCE and MOTIVATE are enrolling individuals with active Crohn’s disease symptoms. Take a minute to fill out this questionnaire to see if you’d be a good candidate for these two Crohn’s clinical research studies.

5. Find ways to relieve stress.

Living with Crohn’s disease can be stressful, but stress may actually trigger an IBD flare. So, finding ways to manage stress can help you relax and feel more in control of a flare. Experiment with different stress management techniques—like breathing exercises, meditation, yoga or tai chi—to find what works best for you.

6. Get moving.

When you’re in a flare, exercise may be the last thing on your mind, but taking time to stay active—even in short, low-intensity intervals—can help reduce stress and boost bone health, two important factors to consider both when you’re going through a flare and during remission.

7. Put down the cigarettes.

Smoking cigarettes is known to trigger Crohn’s flares. In fact, people with Crohn’s who smoke experience more disease activity than those who don’t—and those who quit find that they have fewer flare-ups than before they quit.

8. Take it easy.

Going through a flare can be taxing, so make sure you prioritize self-care. Make sure you’re getting plenty of sleep and rest when you need to.


Medical reviewer and Oshi physician-partner Matthew J. Hamilton, MD is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and a specialist in Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Endoscopy at Brigham and Women’s Hospital Crohn’s and Colitis Center in Boston. He is a leading member of the research team at the BWH Crohn’s and Colitis Center, and has garnered national recognition for his research into the underlying inflammatory processes of IBD.

Oshi is a tracking tool and content resource. It does not render medical advice or services, and it is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. You should always review this information with your healthcare professionals.