Crohn’s Disease: Symptoms, Treatment & More

February 19, 2019
Janelle Thomas MSN, RN
feature image

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
  • Smoking
  • 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
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Constipation
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Fever

Diagnosis and Treatment for Crohn’s Disease

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:

  • Anemia
  • Malnutrition
  • Osteoporosis
  • Anal fissures (small tears around the rectum)
  • Increased risk of colon cancer

Crohn’s Disease Prevention

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:

  • Avoid smoking
  • Exercise regularly
  • Stay hydrated
  • Manage stress
  • Avoid processed foods
  • Limit red meat
  • Increase consumption of whole foods, fruits, and vegetables
  • Limit dairy products
  • Take multivitamins

Have You Been Diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease? Contact Us for Assistance

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, let us help. At Care Options for Kids, we have an entire team of experienced caregivers to ensure the wellbeing of our patients.

If you or an aging loved one are considering home health care services, contact the caring staff at Care Options for Kids. Call today (888) 592-5855.