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5 Tips to Help Survive A Crohn’s/UC Flare While Driving

Driving with Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis or any form of Inflammatory Bowel Disease can turn risky fast, especially when you’re in the middle of a flare. The unpredictability of needing to use the restroom ASAP, can be so debilitating and put you into anxiety overload. But we have to get places somehow and let’s face it, cars are a necessity and will always be a part of our daily lives. So how can we better survive a car ride while in a flare?
Here’s what I have come up with.

1. Deep Breaths

I know, this can be such a cliché thing to say, but! If you feel the urge to go while driving, or as a passenger, usually what is the first thing you do? You panic! And boy, this does not help at all! When you panic and start to stress, your intestines follow along and the urge to go increases. The mind-gut connection is so real, so the more you are able to calm your mind and not reach panic-mode, the more at ease your gut will feel in the moment. Take deep breaths, and speak positive thoughts, such as: “you’re going to be ok.” “This soon will pass.” “A solution is coming soon.”

2. Always keep the essentials handy!

Ok, what I mean by essentials is the following: toilet paper, baby wipes and hand sanitizer. Yes, always, always have these things in your car. Just knowing that you have these essentials with you will keep your anxiety low, because, you know if God-forbid, you have to pull over and do the deed on the side of the road, you’re covered!

3. Keep a bag of clean clothes in your vehicle! Always!

In case things go south and an accident occurs, always have a change of clothes with you in your car. Keep clean underwear, a set of pants and a top (yes just put a top in case) so you can change if things get hairy. And sometimes, things just get hairy—can I get an Amen? Oh, AND flip flops. Yes! Sometimes your shoes take a hit. Better safe than sorry!

4. Have a small trash can with you and keep it in your trunk

Yup, I just went there. So, here is what I have found. If you are on a long car trip, for example, and there are no rest stops nearby, your only option is to release the beast by popping a squat on the side of the road. But let’s be real, that in it of itself can be messy. But! If you have a small trash can, you can take that sucker with you on the side of the road, and place it over your exit hole to reduce unwanted debris from splashing, spraying, or flinging onto places you don’t want it to. Ya feel me?

Thank God and all his angels, I have never had to personally use this technique, but on a long road trip to see a doctor, I did pack a small trashcan with me, in case things got testy. Use this technique, and clean-up will be easier. Make sure you have two plastic trash bags inside the trashcan so it’s ready to go. And check for holes. Holes equate to more mess, meaning more clean up.

5. Laugh

Yes, I said it. Laugh. This darn disease can be one bumpy ride. But if we allow it to consume us with shame, defeat and just overall negativity, we lose. I have had plenty of accidents, one particularly in New York City while getting on the subway. Yup, just imagine explosive diarrhea pouring down your pants and onto your shoes. So believe me, I know how shameful and defeating this illness can be. But we must remain light-hearted. Everything in life comes in seasons, even flares. Remind yourself, this moment of urgency is temporary, and it soon will pass. Then laugh at the absurdity of it all.

I hope this helps! Any tips you’d like to add when it comes to dealing with a flare while driving? Comment below!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Gypsycowgirl71
    8 months ago

    Thank you for this wonderful article! Well said for many.

    I once was pulled over by the police, in the country, on my way to work- no bathrooms in sight, dead of winter. I had to go immediately, I was using every technique possible so I could make it to a gas station 25 miles away. The officer asked the usual questions, I just lost it, I said yes 10 miles over, I’ve got Crohn’s & really need to go. (He gave me a ticket & followed me to the gas station & into the station).
    I didn’t care I already had a mess to clean up & now had to change my clothes. I carried or wore depends on my flare days if in a car.

    Yup, happens to us all.

  • thedancingcrohnie moderator author
    8 months ago

    Oh geeze. Yes, it is sadly and unfortunate reality that we have to deal with. Man, that cop must have been having a bad day to not let you off the hook. Sorry you had to go through that! It’s the worst.

    I hope you are well these days! Hopefully no more moments like that!

    Always dancing,
    Elizabeth (team member)

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