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7 Things You Can Do To Keep Crohn’s Disease Under Control
If you suffer from stomach problems that just won’t go away, you will probably be checked to see if you have Crohn’s disease. This condition affects the stomach but it can also be present in the whole GI tract ranging from your mouth to your anus. Symptoms of the disease range from mild to severe and it affects up to 200 people in every 100,000.
While Crohn’s usually hits younger people from 15 years of age up to 40, it can also show up in people who have family members who already suffer from the disease. This illness is a form of bowel disease that is very inflammatory. It can cause major problems with your digestive tract and it can range from a regular pain in the intestines to a life-threatening problem with no chance of survival.
What causes Crohn’s?
While scientists aren’t sure on exactly what causes Crohn’s disease, they do agree that there are many factors that may join together to create the disease. Problems with your immune system, factors in the environment, and genetics may be the reason people develop this debilitating disease.
Your body’s immune system is responsible for protecting your body from viruses, bacteria, foreign substances, and fungi that could enter your body. Some microbes are okay and actually are needed by the body but some people have an immune system that is defective and doesn’t react appropriately. It could become confused between about which are the good microbes and which are the bad ones. You may also have an immune system that refuses to stop which results in a serious and chronic inflammation that takes over the digestive system.
As far as factors in the environment are concerned, it could be related to cigarette smoke, something that you have eaten, or a virus or bacteria that is making the rounds. Any of these conditions could aggravate your immune system and once it begins it will not stop. The lining of your intestines could also become damaged which has been found to trigger Crohn’s or increase its spread.
It has been found that up to 20% of the people who have Crohn’s have someone in their family who already has the disease. Scientists have been able to determine that there is a gene that can tell if you have an increased chance of developing Crohn’s.
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Here are the 12 signs you may have Crohn’s:
- Pain in your abdomen
- A change in appetite
- Blood in your stool
- Ulcers in your gut
- Extreme fatigue
- Ulcers in your mouth
- Bleeding in the rectum and anal fissures
- Losing weight
- Frequent urination
These symptoms could run from very mild to extremely severe. If any of your symptoms get stronger over time you should seek advice from a medical professional. The following are defined as severe symptoms that you should get help for immediately:
- Vomiting that does not go away
- A high fever
- Extreme weight loss
- Pain in your abdomen that doesn’t go away and even gets worse
- A swollen abdomen
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How are you diagnosed with Crohn’s disease?
In order to determine if you have Crohn’s disease or possibly something else, like ulcerative colitis, your doctor may depend on the following tests:
- Blood tests
- Stool tests
- A biopsy
- Sigmoidoscopy – a tube that can show the condition of the lower bowel
- CT scans – will show a 3-D image of the bowel
- Barium enema x-ray – x-rays are taken of the abdomen
- Endoscopy – a telescope is used to determine the condition of the upper gut
- Solonoscopy – a tube is inserted to check the condition of the colon
How Crohn’s is treated
There are three major ways that Crohn’s is treated: medication, surgery, and nutritional supplements. You doctor will probably use a combination of these treatments to help get the inflammation under control, cut down on the symptoms, and correct any possible problems based on nutritional deficiencies.
Refrain from dairy products, spicy foods, grains that are bulky, and alcohol. These all make the symptoms of Crohn’s worse. If you have Crohn’s disease don’t be surprised if your doctor wants to operate at one point. Surgery is used to take care of any symptoms that have not responded to medication or to handle any complications that may occur such as a blockage bleeding, a perforation, or an abscess.
Some doctors may suggest you have part of your intestines removed but that not only will not cure your Crohn’s disease, it will just make the disease move to other areas. A colostomy may also be recommended but it should be seriously considered first. This is where the ileum is raised to the surface of the skin and the feces of the patient will be redirected to a pouch on their side.
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7 Things You Can Do to Keep Your Crohn’s Disease Under Control
1. Move. Spend time outside, focus on your breath and try yoga.
2. Watch what you eat. Talk with your doctor to see which foods or supplements will give you the most nutrients and vitamins.
3. Try to stay calm. Talk to a counselor if you need one; stay around positive people.
4. Have a support group you can depend on. Make sure you have people who are there to help you and will remind you to take good care of yourself.
5. Find out which over-the-counter medications might work for you. Always ask your doctor before taking any medications; some could make you feel worse rather than better.
6. Try to bring someone with you to your doctor visits. Whether it is your mother or your best friend, it’s always great to have someone with you in case you forget something.
7. Make sure you stay in touch with your doctor regularly. Keep your regular appointments and check in with your doctor if anything changes in between visits.