What causes ulcerative colitis flareups?

When you’re in remission from ulcerative colitis, you’ll want to do everything you can to prevent a flareup. Things that may cause a flareup include:

  • Emotional stress: Get at least seven hours of sleep a night, exercise regularly and find healthy ways to relieve stress, such as meditation.
  • NSAID use: For pain relief or a fever, use acetaminophen (Tylenol®) instead of NSAIDs like Motrin® and Advil®.
  • Antibiotics: Let your healthcare provider know if antibiotics trigger your symptoms.

What role does diet and nutrition play in ulcerative colitis?

Diet does not cause the development of ulcerative colitis nor can any special diet cure the disease. However, the foods you or your child eat may play a role in managing symptoms and lengthening the time between flareups.

Some foods may make symptoms worse and should be avoided, especially during flareups. Foods that trigger symptoms are different from person to person. To narrow down what foods affect you, keep track of what you eat each day and how you feel afterward (a food journal).

Problem foods often include:

  • Greasy foods.
  • High sugar foods and drinks.
  • Carbonated beverages.
  • High-fiber foods.
  • Alcohol.

In addition to the problem foods listed above, infants, children and teenagers can also experience issues with:

  • Salt.
  • Dairy products.

Keep a careful eye on your child’s diet and nutrition. Their appetite may decrease during a flareup and they might not eat enough to stay healthy, and grow. Also, the inflammation caused by ulcerative colitis may keep their digestive tract from absorbing enough nutrients. This can also affect your child’s health. For these reasons, you may have to increase the amount of calories your child consumes.

It’s best to work with your provider and nutritionist to come up with a personalized diet plan if you or your child has ulcerative colitis.

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