Change of Seasons with IBD
We are now in full swing with the spring weather and before we know it, summer will be here!
Most people recognize the seasons for what they are: different weather patterns, different types of clothing, scenic changes, different heating/cooling bills, school starting or ending, etc. But for people who suffer from a chronic, invisible illness like Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis (IBD), the change of seasons can greatly impact their health (both physical and mental).
Seasonal changes can affect Crohn's and UC symptoms differently
The symptoms and changes in a person's physical and mental health vary greatly from person to person. Just like with inflammatory bowel disease, there are no two people who deal with the exact same symptoms or respond to the exact same treatment. A severe, chronic illness like inflammatory bowel disease manifests itself differently in everyone.
One of the myths that Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis sufferers have had to expel is that IBD is just a disease that revolves around the bathroom. While that is true for a lot of people at points in their journey, IBD impacts the entire body. That is one of the reasons there is no cure for these invisible, chronic diseases. We cannot replace a person’s immune system or entire body. Believe me, I have looked on Amazon. ; )
Extra-intestinal symptoms and flare-ups with Crohn's and colitis
In addition, IBD often comes with a lot of extra-intestinal manifestations. Meaning, there is a lot of suffering taking place outside of a person's GI tract. Again, this is not to scare anyone and it is certainly not the case for every person suffering from inflammatory bowel disease, but it is pretty common.
Because an inflammatory bowel disease diagnosis often comes with an array of "side issues" as I like to refer to them, it is almost impossible to tell a person what type of climate they will benefit from and what types of weather might hinder their quality of life.
For example, many people who suffer from Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis have some type of arthritis. For those individuals, the cold weather usually makes everything worse. There is often a ton of pain associated with arthritis in general but layering on the stiff, cold weather and it can be detrimental.
I prefer colder weather with an ostomy
I actually DREAD the hotter weather and I am someone who always loved summer. But now that I have an ostomy, the humidity greatly impacts my skin. I also have pyoderma gangrenosum (another extra-intestinal manifestation of IBD) and I worry about it coming out of remission when my skin is damaged.
I have also suffered from chronic migraines< since the age of 16 and there is nothing worse for me than the heat. Plus, I often sleep even worse than usual because the heat isn’t a friend to my body.
Bottom line is that we are all different and whether we like it or not, the seasons are changing.
Of course, those people who live in California or a place where the weather doesn’t change too drastically are at a slightly different place than us.
Listen to your body as the seasons change
My best piece of advice on how to handle the changing seasons is to listen to your body. I know that sounds cliche and obvious but I know firsthand how enticing it is to push yourself to do or be somewhere you know isn’t the best thing for you.
Sure, we should force ourselves to do things out of our comfort zone and live when we can, but only if it is not at the detriment to your health.
What are some of your thoughts? Does the weather impact your disease? Have any tips for others? Please share in the comments below!
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