Diarrhea- stomach flu or flare?

by John
(Mesa AZ)

My son was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease in October of 2011. He had a bowel resection in May of 2012 and is currently on Humira and Asacol. He has been doing remarkably well.

He started experiencing diarrhea ( a lot) 2 days ago and is now on day 3.
How do you differentiate a flare from the stomach flu? He has no stomach pain,
no temp and no blood in the stool? Not sure what to expect since he's never had a flare.

Any information yo could provide would be greatly appreciated.



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Diarrhea -stomach flu or flare
by: Annette Young

Hello there,

I am sorry to hear that your son is feeling unwell. Having an unexpected bout of diarrhea can be quite worrying especially following a very recent diagnosis of Crohn’s.

It may well be just a simple case of diarrhea but of course if the symptoms continue then medical assistance should be sought. This should then give peace of mind or help if needed.

I would suggest that your son sticks to a very simplistic diet in the meanwhile-bananas for example are extremely good, but certainly nothing spicy and he should have small but regular light meals. He must avoid drinking any fizzy drinks as this will not help the situation and can make dehydration much worse. Plain water is the best drink that he can have during this time. Prolonged bouts of diarrhea can be quite serious so it is important that he keep a journal of how he feels, what he is eats and any other symptoms. This will help him should he have to go to see the doctor.

It is important that your son learns all he can about the Crohn's condition because if he can take the fear out of the condition this will help him to be able to deal with it going forward.

A lot of the problems associated with Crohn's disease is that it is a scary condition for so many people. It makes them feel helpless, isolated and afraid, and stress itself can cause flare-ups so it becomes a vicious cycle. So the more that each individual knows, the better it will be to put coping mechanisms in place. Flare-ups can be irregular and not occur for many weeks, months or even years but it is important that your son learns how to spot these warning signs and to identify any triggers.

Flare-ups can be really severe but they do not necessarily just affect the digestive tract as some sufferers experience severe inflammation in the joints as well.

Fingers crossed that it is just a case of diarrhea but I hope this helps.

Best wishes,


Diarrhea- stomach flu or flare?
by: Lydia D.

Dear John,

It is very difficult to tell whether or not it is a bug, food poisoning, a flare, etc.

I would encourage him to drink a lot and base his diet on the BRAT (banana, rice, apple mousse, tea and toast) diet when his diarrhoea is very bad. He should not be drinking sodas or fizzy mineral water.

Only time will tell. One does not necessarily have pain or blood in the stool with a flare. If he starts to lose weight quckly then he should discuss sipping Ensure or an equivalent enteral drink throughout the day - with plenty of water.

It would also be very helpful if he would keep a food/mood/medication/symptoms diary on his bad days. He should use the CDAI, the Bristol Stool Scale and the comparative pain scale wherever possible.

I hope that it just turns out to be a tummy bug and that he soon gets over it. There is naturally always the danger that a bug triggers a Crohn's flare. But, I don't want to scaremonger.

All the best,

Lydia D.

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