Crohn's & Drinking

by Amy
(Sydney, Australia)

My Partner was diagnosed with Crohn's disease over 4 years ago now. No one in his family has any history of Crohn's.

Originally the doctor thought it was Ulcerative Colitis, but a year later he was back in hospital with the same problems.

He is now on high doses of medication 3 times a day but still experiences so much pain in his stomach and rarely gets a good nights sleep because his stomach is so active during the night. His flatulence is also extremely bad (especially if he has been drinking) and the smell will wake us both up in the night, eventhough he eats really well.

He has always been a big drinker (we have been together 8 years) but strangely, when he drinks, his stomach settles down, noticably so. His specialist has done many tests and we have found that his liver function is actually fine, really good actually.

I am not sure if his drinking is actually causing more problems or not? I know that it stops him from stressing over everyday issues and also settles him and his stomach down, but this only last a couple of days and then the pains are back.

Many people with Crohn's say that they have diarrhoea, however my partner never has abnormal bowel movements at all. In fact it is the same time everyday.

My worry is that he is not dealing with his diagnosis mentally at all and wont get a second opinion for his treatment or even read about what he could do to make his situation easier. I am worried that all his drinking is going to take its toll on him and his condition as he doesnt sleep, exercise and is becoming quite disconnected from everyone around him (except me).

I try to make small (informed)suggestions about his lifestyle but he will not listen and does not see that this could be an easier situation as comparitively he is a lucky crohn's sufferer as he has had no operations so far and leads a semi-normal life (my sisters partner also has Crohn's). He will not make any changes to his lifestyle and it seems his mental state is getting worse. I dont know how to approach this as he is quite a stubborn person in the first place.

Has anyone else had any similar social and drinking issues? How did you deal with them?
Any advice would be helpful as i feel he is very capable of living a much more normal life.

Comments for Crohn's & Drinking

Click here to add your own comments

Crohn's and Drinking NEW
by: Annette Young

Hello Vanessa,

I have just read your post and you made a very good point, in addition to alcohol being so bad for any Crohn's sufferer, it is so important to actually acknowledge that you have a disease that is aggressive and life changing.

Many people struggle to come to terms with the fact that they have the disease and I completely understand that. For some, they have years of pain and discomfort and embarrassing moments and often their conditions are mis-diagnosed in the first instance. Doctors label them with IBS or Ulcerative colitis and it can be many years before doctors finally confirm that it is actually Crohn's disease.

So it's no wonder that for some people it is a harrowing journey and acceptance is at the bottom of the list.

Understanding the disease is important and the more you learn about the disease, the more able you are to defeat it in a way. Sure, there is no cure for the disease and it is all about managing it but fear is a huge factor and many people do carry on drinking for example, because it helps to blot out the fear and the pain on a temporary basis. The fact that the alcohol will cause problems a day or so later, is blotted out too.

Although everyone reacts differently to certain triggers, alcohol is well-known for being one to definitely avoid. Once there is acceptance of the disease, the knowledge that is accrued can be put to good use. The fear starts to dissipate and the mind-set can be one of - how can I adapt my life and get on with my life irrespective of the fact I have a disease?

It is not easy to develop this sort of mindset where there is so much pain and discomfort, and so, it is not surprising that it can take longer but it is one way of being able to claim your life back.

Unfortunately until acceptance and the realization that there are certain foods and drink or external triggers that can create an aggressive bout of pain and discomfort, life continues in the same uncomfortable cycle.

There is no easy answer but filling your body with products that will aggravate can be costly.

Has anyone had any experience of Crohn’s Disease and their lives changing following their adapting and accepting the disease? I would be really interested to hear more.
Best wishes,

Drinking and Crohn's Disease NEW
by: Annette

Hi there,
I felt I should reply to this post and thank you for taking the time to write in.

It sounds as if your boyfriend is not taking his diagnosis very seriously even if he is experiencing some pains. Symptoms vary greatly from sufferer to sufferer and some people get all of the symptoms, others just a few.

Your boyfriend is lucky in that his symptoms do not appear that serious - at the moment but you ask an important question. Is his behaviour making his condition worse? Well, yes. If he has Crohn's disease it is important that he cuts right back on alcohol. It sounds like this is something that he is not willing to do but if he has Crohn's (I am assuming that the diagnosis is correct) then he is kidding himself if he thinks that the alcohol helps it.

It might appear to de-stress him but in which case he should be looking at stress manegement techniques and not relying on alcohol to solve these problems. There is no reason why he can't just gradually reduce the amount he drinks which will help his problem but still enable him to take it at a step at a time. In the meanwhile, he should increase his relaxation techniques, maybe buy him a CD with a guided meditation so it will help him in the first instance and you never know he might really enjoy it as well as helping him to relax.

If he smokes, this is something he would have to give up as smoking is one of the worst triggers I'm afraid. There are others of course, eating spicy foods won't help and for some sufferers eating dairy products or hard to digest foods can be the trigger for very painful flare-ups.

You can tell your boyfriend that flare-ups can be aggressive and violent and just because his symptoms are bearable now, they may not be in the future. I get that he has a head in the sand attitude right now and you can only guide him I'm afraid. But if he can introduce some alternative lifestyle steps, it may make a huge difference to the disease becoming worse.

I hope he listens to you. Maybe in time he will realise that he has to face up to this condition.

Does anyone else have partners who refuses to help themselves? We would love to hear your story. Remember that by sharing your story, you can help others and the more informed we are of this condition, the better able we are to cope and to progress in a healthier direction.

by: Vanessa

Hmm that is a complicated situation. It is very important for your partner to understand that he will not be able to drink all his life. When I was 18 and 19 I used to drink when I was going out with my friends once a week, after a point, I would get super sick just drinking (and I was not drinking a lot and not often, just once a week). And if he is on hard medication, he or you should ask his doctor if he can take alchool. It is very important to accept the disease, it is a part of him and it is always going to be there. And it is very important that the disease can change in one day. Me for 9 years I was living a normal life, eating a lot... but one day everything changed, I would be sick and I would have flare up 2 or 3 times a year. And this year, after 13 years of having this disease, I had to get a couple of surgeries and have to get one more next year.
Good luck :)

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Ask A Question About Crohn's Disease.

Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.