What to Do During a Crohn’s Flare-Up

Nick Rosen, MD
Medically reviewed by Nick Rosen, MDOctober 29th, 2020

If you suffer from Crohn’s disease, you understand how painful and uncomfortable flare-ups can be. While there currently isn’t a cure for Crohn’s, there are ways that you can prepare for and help alleviate some of the pain and discomfort associated with a flare-up.

An Overview of Crohn’s Disease

Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. While this inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) can affect any part of the GI tract, it most commonly affects the end of the small bowel (ileum) and the beginning of the colon. The exact cause of Crohn’s disease remains unknown, but there are certain factors that may put you more at risk, such as:

  • Genetic predisposition to the disease
  • Smoking
  • Taking certain medicines such as antibiotics, birth control pills, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin or ibuprofen
  • A high-fat diet


Symptoms & Flare-Ups

The symptoms of Crohn’s disease can vary, depending on where and how severe your inflammation is. Some people can experience virtually no symptoms, but the most common symptoms include:

  • Frequent and/or urgent bowel movements
  • Diarrhea
  • Cramping and pain in your abdomen
  • Weight loss

Occasionally, people may also experience:

  • Anemia
  • Nausea or loss of appetite
  • Eye redness or pain
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Joint pain or soreness
  • Skin changes that involve red, tender bumps under the skin

A Crohn’s flare-up is simply the reappearance of symptoms—but for those suffering from them, exacerbations are anything but simple. Certain factors can trigger a flare-up, including:

  • Missing IBD medications or taking the incorrect dose
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Antibiotics
  • Smoking
  • Stress
  • Food

In addition to avoiding these triggers, you can also prepare yourself with the proper ways to manage and treat your symptoms.

Managing a Crohn’s Flare-Up

Just because Crohn’s disease has no known cure doesn’t mean that you have to silently suffer. Whether you’re the one living with Crohn’s or you’re caring for a loved one with the disease, there are ways to prepare for the inevitable flare-up and make it more tolerable. For example, you should:

Call Your Doctor

The first thing you should do when experiencing a Crohn’s flare-up is to get in touch with your doctor. He or she can test to see if the flare is caused by anything specific. For example, if it turns out to be an infection of some kind, you might be able to manage the pain with a prescribed medication. If it is a reaction to a change in routine or to new medications, you can confirm suspicions with a physician and adjust accordingly.

Take Care of Your Bottom

Those suffering from a Crohn’s flare-up should take extra care of their tushies. Be sure to practice good hygiene by showering with a hand shower or using a perianal cleansing product. When using the bathroom, use a moist towelette/wipe instead of paper tissue. Apply an all-purpose skin protectant at night to relieve irritation of the skin; and for any soreness, bathe in warm water with Epsom salt. Of course, you should always consult your physician before testing out applications.

Consider Additional Medications

You will most likely be prescribed an IBD medication from your primary care physician, but there are additional over-the-counter options you may choose to take as well. To help manage diarrhea, you may consider taking an anti-diarrheal medication, and to help manage the symptoms of pain, experts recommend acetaminophen as the safest option for IBD patients. However, never take any of these drugs without consulting your healthcare provider.

Turn to DispatchHealth for Your Next Flare-Up


Sometimes flare-ups from Crohn’s disease can cause situations that can make it uncomfortable or nearly impossible to leave your home. At DispatchHealth, we are completely aware of this reality, which is why we offer on-demand, in-home treatment for symptoms and exacerbations of Crohn’s. We can send a team of highly trained medical professionals straight to your door so that you can remain as comfortable as possible while we help you manage your Crohn’s symptoms.

It’s exceptionally easy to schedule an appointment with DispatchHealth—you can call us, download our app, or fill out a request form on our website.


DispatchHealth relies only on authoritative sources, including medical associations, research institutions, and peer-reviewed medical studies.

Sources referenced in this article:

  1. https://www.crohnscolitisfoundation.org/what-is-crohns-disease/overview
  2. https://www.crohnscolitisfoundation.org/sites/default/files/2019-07/managing-flares-brochure-final-online.pdf
  3. https://medlineplus.gov/crohnsdisease.html
  4. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/living-with-crohns-disease-recognizing-and-managing-flares-2019112618410
The DispatchHealth blog provides tips, tricks and advice for improving lives through convenient, comfortable healthcare.

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