Summertime and Crohn's Disease: Friend or enemy?
Last updated: May 2020
So, here in the UK today we are experiencing a very strange phenomenon: the sun is shining! If you're from the UK or have visited it; you'll know just how rare that is-but it's a sign that summer is possibly on the way! So I thought I'd take the time to blog about this season and my Crohn's Disease. So many different things impact my IBD that it only makes sense that our seasons do too! Here's some of the advantages and disadvantages of the summer months ahead of us...
What's great about Summertime and IBD
- Vitamin D hit: I've blogged before about Vitamin D and just how important this vitamin can be for our disease. Many Crohn's patients (around 30% in fact) have low vitamin D levels and therefore the summer months can help with topping up the sunshine vitamin!
- Relaxation: Summer tends to lead to long walks; time outdoors with a good book and a generally more laid-back type of living. It's also the time many of us take a holiday; so it's no wonder many of us feel happier when the sun is shining! It can, of course, also help those who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
- Other Symptoms: Many people with IBD can find other symptoms or other conditions-e.g. skin complaints or aching joints-are improved by the sunshine!
What I hate about Summertime and IBD
- High Temperatures: Now, I'm not sure if I'm alone with this; but when I am in humid, hot conditions, I find my symptoms get worse and I can't keep food down! Thankfully, Britain doesn't reach these heady heights but I previously lived in China and found the humid, 40 degree summers an absolute nightmare!
- Increase risk of flares: Not only is the humid conditions a pain; but during a heatwave, your risk of being admitted to hospital with a flare-up increases according to a 2013 study (source). This has been put down to the stress on the body during a heatwave; as well as a change in our gut microbiota.
- Dehydration Risks: As the days get hotter, our dehydration risks increase. It's important not to underestimate this risk-even more so if you've had surgery or have an ostomy. Remember that drinking water is well and good, but if you're at risk of dehydration then you might also need added electrolytes via a rehydration powder.
- Bad Food Choices: In the summertime, we tend to crave crisp salads and fruit platters. All lovely and healthy- but the sudden increase in fibre from these products aren't always a great idea!
- Increased Alcohol Intake: This might just be a British thing, but what summer means to most of us UK folk is beer gardens! Sitting outside with a bottle of beer or a glass of Pimms is quintessentially British, but the increased alcohol does not make a happy gut.
I'd love to hear your experiences of the sunshine and Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Are the summer months your favourite or do they make your symptoms worse?
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