7 Things to Know About Crohn’s Disease
Crohn’s Disease is a chronic inflammatory condition affecting the gastrointestinal tract. The disease causes inflammation, swelling, and irritation of the intestinal tract. Roughly 700,000 Americans have been diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, and those numbers continue to rise, according to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America.
Have you or a loved one recently been diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease? You’re not alone. Here’s what you need to know about managing this condition:
1. Crohn’s Disease goes through stages of flare-ups and remission.
Crohn’s Disease is a chronic condition, which means symptoms may disappear for a period of time only to re-emerge during a flare-up. Just because your symptoms are not present for several months doesn’t mean you are “healed”– symptoms will likely return.
2. You can’t “give” yourself Crohn’s Disease.
While Doctors don’t know for sure what causes Crohn’s Disease, there is consensus within the scientific community that there’s no “blame” to be assigned. Crohn’s Disease is likely caused by a combination of genetics, environmental factors, and an abnormal immune response that are outside your control. If you have a family history of irritable bowel conditions, you may also be at increased risk for developing the disease.
3. Smoking makes symptoms worse.
One thing doctors do know about Crohn’s Disease is that smoking can make the disease worse. People who smoke cigarettes have worse or more frequent symptoms. Cigarette smoking may also increase your risk for developing the disease. Studies show that Crohn’s Disease has a 34 percent higher occurrence among smokers than non-smokers.
4. Crohn’s Disease often goes undiagnosed and untreated for long periods.
Some patients suffer from symptoms for years before receiving their diagnosis. That’s because the milder symptoms are easily confused with other conditions, including lactose intolerance and irritable bowel syndrome. There are no simple, definitive tests for Crohn’s Disease. Your diagnosis may involve blood work, imaging studies, and endoscopy.
5. Early diagnosis is the best treatment.
Ignoring symptoms in hopes that your intestinal distress will simply resolve on its own will only lead to bigger problems. Crohn’s Disease and treatment options are complex, and there is no “one size fits all” approach for everyone. The earlier you are diagnosed, the more a doctor can do to improve your quality of life through better treatment.
6. Diet and nutrition changes may help.
Keep a food journal to identify “trigger” foods that are connected with your worst GI symptoms of gas, bloating and abdominal pain. If you are losing weight due to problems absorbing nutrients it’s important to follow a high-calorie, high-protein diet.
7. Crohn’s Disease is more manageable than ever.
Crohn’s Disease symptoms can be truly debilitating. The fear of rushing to the bathroom at any moment may keep you from going out with friends or being intimate with your spouse. Anxiety over symptom complications and multiple doctor’s appointments and test can further impact quality of life. But with an effective treatment plan in place, you can return to living a full, active life. In addition to dietary changes, take steps to address your intestinal distress and find anal relief with a rectal moisturizer like Soothe ‘n Wipe. You don’t have to suffer in silence!