Surviving the Summer with IBD
For most, summer is a time for vacations, cookouts, and spending more time outdoors, taking advantage of the sun and warm weather.
However, if you are an IBD patient, you know firsthand how environmental factors, including those in the summer, can negatively influence your disease.
Watch the Video: Surviving the Summer with IBD
Summer Heat and IBD
Aside from diet disruptions from eating out more, research shows a link between summer’s high temperatures and IBD flares.
In a study by the University Hospital in Zurich, published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, researchers reviewed the effects of heat on more than 700 IBD patients. The study revealed that daily IBD hospitalizations increased by almost 5% during extreme heat periods.
Although the cause for the increase isn’t clear, researchers believe that hot weather induces physical stress, a known cause of IBD flares.
Tips to Help You Survive and Thrive During Summer
Know Your Seasonal Symptoms
Understanding how the different seasons impact your body and your disease is vital to managing your condition. It’s important to remember that not everyone experiences the same challenges. Some patients report improved symptoms during the summer months, likely related to increased vitamin D production from spending more time outdoors, while others find their symptoms worsen during this time.
If you know what to expect, it’s easier to prepare.
Make Sure to Hydrate
As temperatures rise, your risk for dehydration increases. Dehydration is of particular concern for anyone with IBD, given that they are already prone to it due to water loss from vomiting or diarrhea.
Remember to bring a water bottle with you wherever you go and track how much you’ve drank. Ask your doctor what your recommended daily water intake is.
Vitamin D is Essential
It’s not uncommon for people living with IBD to have low vitamin D levels. Keeping your vitamin D levels up is crucial because it can improve disease progression thanks to its anti-inflammatory immune responses.
Enjoy the sun but make sure to wear sunscreen. Apply it 30 minutes before you go out in the sun and reapply every two hours.
Beware of Photosensitivity
Before deciding to get a tan, ask your doctor if any medications you are taking could cause increased photosensitivity and skin inflammation.
Get Your Beauty Rest
The summer months may involve more social activities. However, remember to make sleep a priority. When you don’t sleep enough, your body’s ability to heal is slowed or delayed, worsening IBD symptoms.
If you already have a relaxing nightly routine, try to adhere to it as best you can. If you don’t have a way to unwind at night, this is the perfect time to develop one. Try taking a soothing bath, reading a book, and avoiding screen time (cell phone, computer, tablets, and TV screens) for at least one hour before going to bed. Ideally, try to get at least eight hours of sleep per night.