Crohn's disease is characterized by alternating periods of heavy symptoms and relatively quiet stages, called remission. Your goal is to stay in remission as long as possible.

If you've been diagnosed with Crohn's disease, you can take some simple steps to help keep your symptoms at bay.

Take your medicine as prescribed. Drugs only work if you take them, so follow your doctors' orders closely. Medications react differently in different people. If you experience side effects, tell your physician. He or she may prescribe a different medication that treats the disease with fewer side effects.

Manage stress. There is increasing evidence that supports a relationship between Crohn's disease and stress. Unmanaged stress can trigger symptoms, or make active symptoms worse. Reducing stress improves your overall quality of life-whether or not you have Crohn's disease.

Plan ahead. Whether you are going to work, out to dinner or on vacation, being prepared is the best way to keep your disease under control. Bring food you know is safe for you if you suspect you will be in a situation where there are few good food options. Always identify the location of the nearest bathroom so you get there quickly if needed. Carry a change of clothes. If you're leaving home for an extended period, bring your prescriptions in their original containers, and be sure to have extra in case you are unexpectedly delayed.

Watch your diet. Avoid known trigger foods and be sure to eat as balanced a diet as you can. You may want to add vitamin and mineral supplements to compensate for disease-related malabsortion.

Visit your doctor even when you are well. Don't wait until your symptoms flare or you experience other health problems. By seeing your physician regularly, you can stay a step ahead of problems and address them before they become urgent.