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Crohn’s Disease Triggers

Living with Crohn’s disease means dealing with periods of quietness, where there are no signs or symptoms of the disease, and experiencing debilitating discomfort at other times. Often, a Crohn’s sufferer can determine that certain triggers lead to the pain and discomfort of Crohn’s. The following are some of the most common Crohn’s disease triggers:


The connection between Crohn’s disease and stress is not completely understood. However, many physicians will tell a Crohn’s sufferer to examine stress levels, because stress can often lead to flare-ups.

  1. Balfour Sartor, MD, chief medical advisor at the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America, said, “We know that stress can affect gut function in healthy people who do not have Crohn’s… Stress increases blood flow to the gut, which increases motility and stimulates contractions in the intestines. That leads to diarrhea and nausea.”

If stress can lead to gut dysfunction in people who do not have Crohn’s disease, it can make life a nightmare for those who are already susceptible to cramping and diarrhea.


Smoking cigarettes often triggers flare-ups and raises the risk of one needing surgery to treat Crohn’s. Sartor said, “One theory is that smoking causes constriction of the blood vessels and leads to inadequate oxygen flow and nutrition in the intestines, which causes injury to the area.”


Medications like antibiotics, aspirin, and ibuprofen can all trigger flare-ups in Crohn’s patients. Taking antibiotics changes the balance of bacteria in the gut, which can lead to diarrhea, even in people who don’t have Crohn’s. If you have Crohn’s, consider asking your Crohn’s doctor about switching to acetaminophen or a natural, herbal remedy to relieve pain.

These are just a few Crohn’s triggers. To get an idea of the many lifestyle changes that may be needed to keep Crohn’s at bay, talk with your health care professional. He or she can help you make choices that reduce, or even eliminate, Crohn’s flare-ups.

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