People with debilitating bowel conditions are being invited to take part in a study to better understand what causes the diseases to worsen.
Flare-ups can include diarrhoea, rectal bleeding, urgent bowel movements, constipation, abdominal cramps and pain, fever, fatigue and weight loss.
Researchers want to find the everyday factors that influence flare-ups of Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, and investigate how changes in diet and lifestyle might help sufferers.
Dr Charlie Lees, chief investigator, said: “Patients often ask us whether there are any changes to their diet or lifestyle that would help to better manage their symptoms.
“We hope the findings from this study will give us the evidence base needed to provide better advice for those living with these debilitating diseases.”
Participants will be asked to complete online questionnaires about their eating, exercise and sleeping habits and monitor feelings of stress and anxiety.
Crohn’s and colitis: Diet can have a major impact on the disease
Those taking part will provide monthly updates for two years, detailing how well their symptoms are being controlled and any significant events.
Experts will compare information from those who experience flare-ups with those who do not.
Researchers said they hope to pinpoint everyday factors that could contribute to the onset of symptoms.
Crohn’s disease: The condition can cause painful symptoms
Called PREdiCCt, (Prognostic effect of environmental factors in Crohn’s and colitis), the study is led by the University of Edinburgh and NHS Lothian and is recruiting patients from Scotland and England.
Researchers from the University of Aberdeen will provide expertise in diet and nutrition plus analysis of participants’ gut bacteria.
The study is funded by the charities Cure Crohn’s Colitis, and Crohn’s and Colitis in Childhood, and the Scottish Government’s Chief Scientist Office.