Dear Sunshine, Please Go Away. My Crohn’s Hates You.
It's still August, but I am officially done with summer. Anybody else the same?
Crohn's disease and heat
Each year when April and May come around, I enjoy the mild spring sunshine and warmer days, throw out my sweatshirts and promise myself that this year I am going to try and enjoy summer.
However, by the time we reach heatwave weather in July, me and my belly have officially had enough and just want it to be winter again. But why does my Crohn's disease hate the sunshine so much?
I've never really been able to cope with really hot temperatures, whether that's due to my pale skin or the fact I live in England where rain is our specialty. Either way, I overheat really quickly and this seems to lead me to rush to the toilet more and more as the days get sunnier and more humid.
I want a cold beer! But my Crohn's doesn't
Staying on top of hydration is another issue lots of us with IBD have.
I tend to gulp lots of water throughout the day and live off popsicles – neither of which seems to make my belly happy. For some reason, ice-cold water and fizzy drinks really aggravate my gut, but it's all I want to drink when the weather is so warm! As for an ice-cold beer in the sunshine, there will be consequences for that.
But sometimes sipping tepid room temperature water just won't cut it. Peppermint tea is usually my go-to when my belly is unhappy, but drinking hot tea just leaves me feeling even warmer.
No crisp summer salads for this Crohn's gut
I also struggle to eat what my gut likes – which is usually things like cooked meals such as soups, stews, and mashed potatoes. In other words, winter staples.
These just don't seem appealing in the warm weather. My appetite is less and I find myself craving crisp salads, juicy olives, and refreshing watermelon. The thought of cooking and eating a hot meal in such hot weather doesn't interest me. Yet raw fruit, vegetables, and salads simply spell a disaster zone for my gut.
Not being able to sleep in the heat
At night, I toss and turn whilst trying to get as close as possible to a fan. We don't have air conditioning here in the UK, so struggling to sleep on sticky evenings is a massive problem.
And guess what? Lack of sleep and stress is not helping my gut either.
Heatwaves and increased flares
I'm not alone with this dilemma though. IBD and the heat don't seem to be a great pair for a lot of people with Crohn's or colitis.
Heatwaves have been proven to increase the risk of IBD flares significantly the longer a heatwave goes on and on.1 The study said, "During a heatwave, patients with IBD should be aware that there is an increased risk for a flare and contact their gastroenterologist in cases of an increase of stool frequency or abdominal pain.”1
My IBD is ready for summer to end
So many of the things we associate with the cooler seasons just seem to be more IBD-friendly: spending more time indoors, long hot baths, soothing teas, and hearty homecooked meals. Sure we may miss the sun when the snow is coming down, but at least I feel better for it.
So as of today, I am more than willing to press the fast forward button and find myself surrounded by leaves and a chill in the air once more. Does anyone want to join me?
Do you keep a food diary to help manage symptoms?