What is Crohn’s Disease?
Crohn’s disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease that results in inflammation and irritation in different parts of the digestive tract. This condition results in severe diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss, and some other conditions. The inflammation as a result of Crohn’s disease may affect bowel tissues and spread deep into the layers.
A Crohn’s disease flare-up worsens symptoms such as diarrhea, loss of appetite, bloating, abdominal cramping and pain, nausea, and some other symptoms. People who suffer Crohn`s disease are advised to eat nutrient-dense, soft and bland foods.
Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease
Crohn’s disease usually affects the ileum (small intestine) and the colon (a part of the large intestine). Symptoms could be mild to severe. Here are some of the common symptoms.
- mouth sores
- weight loss
- reduced appetite
- slow growth in children
- skin inflammation
- liver inflammation
- pain or drainage around the anus due to inflammation
Causes of Crohn’s Disease
There are speculations that stress and diet are the leading causes of Crohn’s disease, however, researchers remain uncertain of its actual causes. Malfunctioning of the immune system and heredity are also likely causes. We’ll discuss these last two briefly.
Immune System Malfunction
Some viral or bacterial bodies destroy the cells in the digestive tract due to an irregular immune response.
People with a family history of Crohn’s disease have higher chances of suffering it. Knowledge of such family history puts you at a vantage point in preventing it.
Treating Crohn’s Disease
There are various ways of treating/managing Crohn`s diseases. We will discuss some of them.
The level of inflammation determines the medications to take in managing this chronic disease. Your doctor will prescribe the required medications after some medical checks.
This is an anti-inflammatory drug which prevents Crohn’s disease and treats its mild and moderate symptoms
The location and severity of the condition determine if there’s a need for surgery. In some cases, there’s a need to remove the affected part(s) of the digestive tract.
Dietary supplements are sometimes required to control the symptoms of Crohn’s disease. Studies show that underweight people are more vulnerable to this condition, as the inflammation in their intestines affects food absorption.
Corticosteroids combat inflammation and treat the immune system. Due to their adverse effects, doctors prescribe them for a short time.
Antibiotics treat infections and reduce bacterial growth in the gastrointestinal tract.
This suppresses overactive immunity which is common with Crohn’s disease.
Biological agents are prescribed in severe cases of Crohn’s disease. They are also used in chemotherapy.
Stress management therapies and emotional support go a long way in managing Crohn’s disease. Stress increases the severity of the disease, hence dealing with it is vital.
Diagnoses of Crohn’s Disease
Diagnosing Crohn’s disease can be difficult because of its similarities with some other conditions such as colon cancer, celiac disease, diverticulitis, and some parasitic infections. Here are some of the methods health experts adopt:
Colonoscopy enables an internal examination of the intestinal wall and aids the removal of tissues for a thorough examination.
Family History Analysis
Doing an investigation into, and analysis of a patient’s family history of bowel diseases and autoimmune diseases can be helpful.
CT Scan or MRI
These are ways of monitoring the risks of complications like fistulas or abscesses.
Abdominal x-rays are necessary for examining intestinal obstruction and narrowing. Doctors rarely recommend this, except in emergency cases.
This is effective in diagnosing diseases in the liver, gallbladder, pancreas, and other abdominal organs.
Some Useful Tips for Crohn’s Disease Patients
There’s no hard and fast way of managing Crohn’s disease. Following your doctor’s prescribed treatment and these tips may just be of great help.
Adjust to Dietary Changes
Low consumption of dairy products and fiber diets will help you a whole lot in dealing with Crohn’s disease. You may also need to avoid gas-producing foods such as broccoli, beans, cabbage, vegetables, and raw fruits. Eating in bits is also helpful.
Smoking affects the treatment of Crohn’s disease. For a smooth treatment and avoidance of complications, you need to entirely avoid smoking.
Crohn’s disease and stress don’t go well together. To manage this disease, you need to remain stress-free.
Complications of Crohn’s Disease
Failure to treat Crohn’s disease, and unsuccessful treatment result in some of these complications.
Anal fissures are small tears at the end of the anal canal. They can be such a discomfort; they cause bleeding, itching, and severe pain.
People who experience severe inflammation may also experience partial or complete blockages that prevent the movement of food and waste through the intestines. This is a severe condition which sometimes takes the lives of sufferers, hence its need for immediate medical attention.
Inflammation going through the intestinal wall may cause abnormal tunnel-like structures to form between parts of the body or intestines.
This is an infection in the digestive tract which is characterized by painful, swollen, pus-filled areas.
Inflammation is not restricted to the digestive tract. It may extend to the eyes, joints, and skin.
Another complication of Crohn’s disease is open sores along the digestive tract.
Healthy Foods for Crohn’s Disease Patients
Refined grains are easily digestible. They have less fermentable fiber than whole grains, and this enables their easy passage through the digestive tract. They’re also relatively mild on the guts and cause less inflammation. Here are some common refined grains to choose from:
- rice snacks
- white bread
- white rice
- plain crackers
Low-fiber fruits are mild on the digestive system; they also control diarrhea. Here’s a fruit tip that may help you: the riper the fruit, the less fiber it contains. You are advised to eat fruits in fewer servings when you suffer a Crohn’s disease flare-up. Here are some low-fiber fruits that are good for you:
- honeydew melon
People who suffer from Crohn’s disease may have oatmeal made from quick or refined oats. It has less fiber than steel-cut oats because the hulls are removed. You may add oats to smoothies with peeled, low-fiber fruits.
Peeled or Poached Fruit
You can reduce the insoluble fibers in fruits by removing their skin or poaching the fruits. The more fruits are processed, the easier it is to digest them.
Note, however, that inasmuch as cooked fruits have less fiber, they actually contain more sugar. Moderation is advised here.
Cooked and Peeled Vegetables
Cooking vegetables reduces the fiber content, hence enables easier digestion. Also, when you peel vegetables, you take out some of the insoluble fiber. Roasting vegetables in oil or butter may irritate the digestive system, hence make Crohn’s disease more unbearable. So it is safe to only boil or steam vegetables.
Crohn’s Disease Vs. Ulcerative Colitis
Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis both affect the digestive system, and they are both inflammatory bowel diseases; they have similar symptoms, risk factors, and treatments, however, there are some differences between them. Let’s discuss them.
- Crohn’s disease can affect any part of the digestive tract, but ulcerative colitis only develops in the colon and rectum.
- Crohn’s disease can affect all the layers of the bowel wall, but ulcerative colitis only affects the inner lining of the colon.
- Crohn’s disease causes inflammation patches, and in many cases leaves areas of healthy tissue in between, but ulcerative colitis causes uninterrupted inflammation along the colon.