There are few things that can put a damper on your day like digestive issues. Suddenly, the focus shifts from; “What are we doing today?” to; “Where is the nearest bathroom and how can I stay close to it all day?”
The concern and discomfort increase when what originally started as a simple inconvenience is accompanied by pain, fatigue, diarrhea, and on some occasions, an embarrassing accident. What is going on with your digestive system and what can you do to alleviate it?
What is Crohn’s Disease?
Crohn’s Disease is an inflammatory bowel disease. It causes inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract and can affect any part of the GI tract from the mouth to the anus. There is no known cure for Crohn’s Disease although therapies can greatly reduce its symptoms.
Causes of Crohn’s Disease
The cause of Crohn’s Disease is unknown. However, there are several risk factors that increase the likelihood of developing the condition (as explained below). It’s important to know that diet and stress may worsen symptoms.
Risk Factors for Developing Crohn’s Disease
The most common risk factors of Crohn’s Disease include:
Family history of the condition
Being Caucasian or of Eastern European descent
Living in urban areas
Being under 30-years old
Certain medications, such as naproxen or Ibuprofen
Common Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease
Signs and symptoms of Crohn’s disease can range from mild to severe. They usually develop gradually, but sometimes will come on suddenly without warning. When the disease is active, signs and symptoms include:
A regular, urgent need to have a bowel movement
Constant feeling that the bowel movement was incomplete
Crohn’s Disease can be diagnosed with a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy. The medical provider may also order blood tests or an MRI, and ask if any first degree relatives suffer from the condition.
There is no cure for Crohn’s disease, and there is no one treatment that works for everyone. Treatment options include medication to reduce inflammation and stop diarrhea, antibiotics to control the overgrowth of bacteria in the intestines and nutritional supplements. Doctors also advise patients with Crohn’s Disease to drink plenty of fluids. Additionally, the patient will likely have to implement diet changes for Crohn’s Disease into their lifestyle, including limiting dairy, fatty and spicy foods, caffeine, and foods with high fiber content. As a last resort, surgery may be necessary to remove damaged portions of the digestive system.
Incorporating regular exercise into the patient’s lifestyle can alleviate symptoms.
Complications of Crohn’s Disease
Crohn’s Disease could lead to complications including:
Since the cause of Crohn’s Disease is unknown, the condition cannot be fully prevented. However, there are several things you can do to reduce the likelihood of inflammation of the digestive tract, such as: