Crohn’s disease is a lifelong condition where parts of the digestive system become inflamed. It’s one type of condition called inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease that causes chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract.
Crohn’s disease can be painful, debilitating, and, sometimes, life-threatening. The disease can occur at any age, but Crohn’s disease is most often diagnosed in adolescents and adults between the ages of 20 and 30. It is a long-term condition that involves inflammation of the gut.
There’s no known cause of Crohn’s disease. Certain factors may increase the risk of developing the condition, including:
● Autoimmune disease: Bacteria in the digestive tract may cause the body’s immune system to attack healthy cells.
● Genes: Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) often runs in families. If you have a parent, sibling, or other family members with Crohn’s, you may be at an increased risk of also having it. There are several specific mutations (changes) to the genes that can predispose people to develop Crohn’s disease.
● Smoking: Cigarette smoking could as much as double the risk of Crohn’s disease.
The symptoms of IBD include:
● cramping and pain in the abdomen
● weight loss
Other symptoms include
● eye redness or pain
● feeling tired
● joint pain or soreness
● nausea or loss of appetite
● skin changes that involve red, tender bumps under the skin
Symptoms may vary depending on the location and severity of inflammation.
Treatment for Crohn’s Disease
Doctors treat Crohn’s disease with medicines, bowel rest, and surgery.
No single treatment works for everyone with Crohn’s disease. The goals of treatment are to decrease the inflammation in the intestines, prevent flare-ups of the symptoms, and keep you in remission.
Many people with Crohn’s disease need medicines. Which medicines the doctor prescribes will depend on symptoms.
Although no medicine cures Crohn’s disease, many can reduce symptoms.
● Bowel rest
If Crohn’s disease symptoms are severe, you may need to rest the bowel for a few days to several weeks. Bowel rest involves drinking only certain liquids or not eating or drinking anything. During bowel rest, the doctor may
● ask you to drink a liquid that contains nutrients
● give you a liquid that contains nutrients through a feeding tube inserted into the stomach or small intestine
● give you intravenous (IV) nutrition through a special tube inserted into a vein in the arm
You may stay in the hospital, or you may be able to receive the treatment at home. In most cases, the intestines will heal during bowel rest.
Even with medicines, many people will need surgery to treat their Crohn’s disease.
Although surgery will not cure Crohn’s disease, it can treat complications and improve symptoms. Doctors most often recommend surgery to treat
● bleeding that is life-threatening
● side effects from medicines when they threaten the health
● symptoms when medicines do not improve the condition
Diet & Nutrition
While Crohn’s disease may not be the result of bad reactions to specific foods, paying special attention to the diet may help reduce symptoms, replace lost nutrients, and promote healing.
For people diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, it is essential to maintain good nutrition because Crohn’s often reduces appetite while increasing the body’s energy needs. Additionally, common Crohn’s symptoms like diarrhea can reduce the body’s ability to absorb protein, fat, carbohydrates, as well as water, vitamins, and minerals.
Many people who experience Crohn’s disease flare-ups find that soft, bland foods cause less discomfort than spicy or high-fiber foods. While diet can remain flexible and should include a variety of foods from all food groups, the doctor will likely recommend restricting intake of dairy if you are found to be lactose-intolerant
Living with Crohn’s disease can be difficult at times. Unpredictable flare-ups and regular check-ups with your care team can disrupt school, work, and your social life.
But if symptoms are well controlled, you can live a normal life with the condition.