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What Is an IBD Flare-Up?

What It Means To Have A Relapse Of Crohn's Disease Or Ulcerative Colitis


Updated May 25, 2014

Question: What Is an IBD Flare-Up?

You may read a lot about "flare-ups" or "flaring" in connection with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or other chronic conditions. These terms are generally meant to refer to the active state of IBD.


IBD is a chronic condition that is characterized by intermittent periods of active disease (flare-ups) and little or no disease activity (remission). The duration and severity of the active period varies widely from person to person. The goal of treating IBD is to quell the flare and get the IBD back under control -- hopefully into remission.

After a period of remission, or a time with few or little symptoms, IBD may flare-up, causing symptoms again. Symptoms that may have been gone for weeks or months become bothersome again. A flare-up will probably not resolve by itself, and treatment will be needed. Most people with IBD take a maintenance drug to help keep symptoms in check, even when the IBD is quiescent. Maintenance drugs will be continued during a flare-up, and other drugs, diet modifications, or other treatments may be prescribed by a gastroenterologist to bring the disease back under control. Surgery is also considered a treatment for IBD, and is typically considered only after all other options have been exhausted.


Crohns and Colitis Foundation of America. "What is Crohn’s Disease?" CCFA.org 2013. 8 Sept 2013.

Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America. "What is Ulcerative Colitis?" CCFA.org 2013. 8 Sept 2013.

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