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Athletes with IBD: Tips on Staying Active

Athletes with IBD: Tips on Staying Active

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is characterized by chronic inflammation of the digestive tract. IBD primarily includes Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative colitis. The most common symptoms include painful abdominal cramps, intestinal bleeding, diarrhea, fever, vomiting and weight loss. Though the exact cause of the condition remains unknown, the genetic and non-genetic or environmental factors are thought to play a part. All these factors may impair the normal functioning of the immune system and the body’s defense mechanism attacks body’s own tissue causing inflammation of the mucosal lining.

If you are an athlete, it is important to prioritize your health during training. Finding proper treatment can help you stay in the game. Training for a sport whether you are a tennis player or a runner diagnosed with IBD can be challenging due to various reasons:

  • Feeling tired all the time. This may be due to lack of essential nutrients, deficiency of vitamin B12 or side effects from medications.
  • Allergic reactions
  • Struggle with exercise
  • Irritation of wounds due to sweating after a workout.
  • Dehydration due to diarrhea.
  • Anxiety due to living with a long-term unpredictable disease as well as a lack of vitamins.
  • Very limited food choices as the wrong type of food can trigger the bowel.

Here are a few tips on how to manage your symptoms while continuing to do what you love:

  • Always have plenty of water readily available to prevent dehydration that occurs with severe diarrhea.
  • Adjust your workout. Vary the routine, intensity and duration of your workouts according to the severity of your condition. Avoid exercises that stress the abdomen too much. If you don’t feel you are strong enough to jog on any given day, go for a brisk walk instead. However, if you feel very tired and have other symptoms such as dizziness and chest pain, stop what you are doing and consult your doctor.
  • Plan for emergencies. If you are going for a run outdoors make sure there are restrooms nearby so that you will be able to use them if required.
  • Don’t get carried away with the game. Evaluate your symptoms every 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Consult your doctor or a dietitian and identify your trigger food. Individuals with IBD will have some form of sensitivity to a specific type of foods. The common trigger foods include dairy products, alcohol, fatty foods, beverages, raw fruits and vegetables, and meat. Find out which foods are risky and how to safely avoid them.

While in the short term you may find it difficult to be physically active, over time your efforts will bring rich rewards. You’ll find it easier to become more physically active.

At Greater Houston Gastroenterology, we provide specialized services and treatments for a wide range of gastrointestinal conditions. Our dedicated clinical staff and physician assistants are available to assist in delivering high-quality treatment and expert care. As the largest GI group in the greater Houston area, we offer 17 locations for your convenience.

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