Summer and IBD

Now that the sun is out and the warm, or rather hot, weather is here many people are heathappy.  They can go out and enjoy the sunshine and get a tan.  They can hang at the beach or pool.  They have BBQ’s and picnics.  But sadly not everyone can enjoy the summer days.  For many of us, Summer is dangerous.

Like so many things IBD, the heat of the summer days can be bad for us.  For many, it brings on flares.  For others, it is dehydration.  I personally hate the heat as it makes my symptoms worse and I find myself spending more time in the bathroom.

So what is it about the heat that makes our IBD worse.  I looked this up online and found one thing and thought it was interesting.  It was from a site I had never heard of and it talked about a study done in Switzerland.  The website was and here is what they posted:

One environmental factor never before discussed is climate change. Could hotter weather make IBD symptoms worse? Researchers with University Hospital in Zurich, Switzerland believe so.

Gastroenterologist Christine Manser and her team reviewed the hospital’s admission records over a five-year period, which included 17 heat waves – defined as any period of six or more days with high temperatures rising above the average daily high by more than 9 degrees Fahrenheit. A total of 738 patients with Inflammatory bowel disease and 786 patients with infectious gastroenteritis were admitted during these hot spells. A control group of 506 people hospitalized for noninfectious GI problems were used as comparison.

Periods of extreme hot weather led to a 4.6% increase in risk of people needing to be hospitalized with a relapse of inflammatory bowel disease for every additional day the heat wave lasted. There was also a 4.7% increased risk of people sickened by infectious gastroenteritis, an inflammation of the stomach and intestines caused by a bacteria or virus with symptoms that include vomiting and watery diarrhea in addition to fever, abdominal cramps, nausea and headache.

Dr. Manser says that several potential mechanisms may explain this phenomenon. The heat waves could induce physical stress, which has been shown to cause flares of IBD. For IG, heat can change the bacterial composition of the GI tract which leads then to symptoms.

The study came from this reference: Christine N. Manser MD et al. Heat Waves, Incidence of Infectious Gastroenteritis, and Relapse Rates of Inflammatory Bowel Disease: A Retrospective Controlled Observational Study. Am J Gastroenterol advance online publication 13 August 2013; doi: 10.1038/ajg.2013.186

When you think about it, it kind of makes sense.  Heat makes things speed up and if we have bad bacteria in us, it kind of makes sense that it can promote growth.  What I do question though is looking at the symptoms (abdominal cramps, nausea and headache) did they look into dehydration as a cause.  Since there were numerous heat waves during the study, these symptoms can also be from dehydration.

That leads me to the biggest rule for the summer for us IBDers.  Stay Hydrated!  If you have to bring water with you everywhere you go.  And yes, I said water not sports drink.  Many of the sports drinks are mostly sugar which can make dehydration worse.  If you stay Water Bottlehydrated with the water, you shouldn’t be losing electrolytes and hopefully don’t need the extra from these sports drinks.  And yes I know everyone is different, especially those with ostomies.  If you know you definitely need the electrolytes, then of course have a sports drink.  My main rule is, make sure you always have something with you to keep you hydrated.

My second rule is dress for the weather.  If it is hot out, don’t dress in long sleeves and jackets.  Wear loose clothing that can breath.  If you feel daring, go for the shorts and tank tops.  I know many IBDers are self conscious about their bodies because of the numerous scars a lot of us have.  I say be proud and show it off 🙂  Don’t let people make you feel bad.  If you are going swimming, don’t bundle up to hide.  Wear that bathing suit proudly.beach

Third rule is stay cool.  While it is nice to get out doors and enjoy the sun, don’t overdue it.  When you go inside, turn on an air conditioner.  Enjoy the cool air it has to offer.  It can actually help you too because if the heat is going to be bad for your IBD, the cool air is going to help calm the IBD.


So now that you know a little about how to deal with the summer, go out and have fun.  Don’t let the heat stop you from living your life.  I know I won’t.

Food Poisoning and IBD

F Poisoning

This past weekend had me thinking about those friends I have that suffer from severe IBD.  Over the Memorial Day weekend, my wife and I went away to Atlantic City.  Our first day there we had fun and looked forward to the next day.  However, things would take a bad turn.

On Sunday morning, my wife got really sick.  She had been suffering from either a cold or allergies so I figured things just got worse for her.  Mid-day, during my relaxing massage, my stomach started having spasms.  Soon I would be really sick myself.  Now, when either of us get sick we very rarely give it to each other.  So the fact that we were now both horribly sick led me to believe that it was an illness but food poisoning.

On Saturday for lunch we decided to go to the buffet at the hotel and one of the dishes that we both ate was cold when it should have been hot.  I should have known better but we both ate it and I am convinced that the product was the cause of our illness.

Now of course we didn’t see a doctor or get our blood tested so I can not say for 100% certain that it was food poisoning but it really looks like it was.  Since there is no proof, I won’t mention the hotel or where we ate so as not to slander them.

As I was laying in bed and then often running to the bathroom I thought about the days when I was really sick with my Crohn’s.  It made me think of some people I know that still suffer badly with the disease.  I know we all hate when people make comparisons like “I know how you feel.  I had the flu once”.  But seriously, food poisoning is a little like the problems we have with IBD.

First, it affects the same area, the digestive track.  My guts and stomach had horrible pains and spasms and at times it was hard to tell if it was the food poisoning or my Crohn’s acting up.  Second, it saps all of your energy to the point that you don’t want to do anything but stay in bed.  Then there is the nausea and vomiting.abdominal-pain-male.jpg

So as I am in lying in bed in pain, waiting for what fever I had to break and hoping my wife doesn’t need to run into the bathroom the same time I need it, I started thinking about how some people I know live like this all the time.  I have been lucky and have a pretty normal life.  I don’t normally have pain with my Crohn’s.  My worst symptoms is the bathroom use.  Many people though have pain everyday and struggle to get out of bed.  I never truly understood the struggle until this past weekend.

It is now Thursday and I still have not fully recover.  I start to feel better and then my stomach will lurch and spasm.  I was sitting at work yesterday, in pain, again thinking of my friends.  Many can’t hold down a job.  I have been lucky and can.  I have a desk job and am lucky not to have eyes watching me all the time.  If I feel sick I can rest my head for a bit.  I can take it easy if I need to.  If I had the time to take off, I would have taken a day or two but I don’t have it yet so I had to go into work on Tuesday.  Again, many people can’t seem to work and I thought of them.

It isn’t often that we can take the time to walk in another person’s shoes.  This past weekend helped me to remember what others are going through and help me to remember that there are so many out there struggling and need help.  I took some time off from advocating and working in charities to sort out things in my life.  I now remember why I started all of this and even why I started this blog.  Sometimes we have to fall to remember why we were flying.  The people I know that suffer, they are always in my mind but are even more on my mind now.  Fork

It’s nice to remember why you started to do things and I know remember why I started down this road.  The side trips I took over the past year have been interesting but it is now time to get back on the main road and continue the journey.

Time to continue the advocacy.