What is Crohn’s Disease
Crohn’s disease (CD) is a type of inflammation in your gut, also known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The inflammation commonly occurs in the small intestine and colon however, it can affect any parts of your gastrointestinal (GI) tract, from your mouth to your anus with no consistency. Hence, severity of Crohn’s could range from mild to debilitating and could be life threatening.
What are the causes?
The main cause is unclear, however, there are factors that may influence the chances of developing Crohn’s disease, which are:
- Immune system
- Genetics (20% chance of developing if parents, sibling, or child has CD)
- Environment (poor hygiene, stress, lack of sleep, smoking)
What are the symptoms?
Some people with CD will experience occasional cramps, or diarrhea. Due to it’s mild symptoms, it is often disregarded and not seeking medical attention.
However, most CD patients will experience prolonged symptoms with flare-ups such as:
- Abdominal pain (below the navel, typically after meals)
- Diarrhea with blood
- Sore around the anus
- Pus or mucus from anus or anal area
- Pain whenever bowel movement (digestion occurs)
- Mouth sores
- Loss of appetite
- Joint/ back pain
- Weakness or fatigue
- Stunted growth or delayed puberty in children
How to manage crohn’s Disease
There are no ways in preventing CD, only managing symptoms and treating CD.
- Nutrition therapy
- Quit smoking
- Regular colonoscopy checkup for potential cancer development
- Anti-inflammatory drugs (eg: mesalamine)
- Antidiarrheal medications
- Antibiotics (to kill bacteria in irritated areas)
Crohn’s Disease Nutrition Therapy
In order to further manage and improve CD patients, it is important for CD patients to become an active partner in their own care. CD patients have specific nutrition requirement that need to be met, such as:
- Protein – how much and what type
- Carbohydrates – again, how much and what type
- Vitamins – especially the importance of C, D and some of the B vitamins
- Minerals – calcium, selenium, zinc
- Fish oil
Crohn’s Disease Nutrition Therapy will be further explained here.
Additionally, supplementing prebiotic and probiotic are found useful in managing inflammation as well as bacterial infection among CD patients. Research found that addition of probiotics with anti-inflammatory drugs (glucocorticoids) are able to reduce the inflammation. Consult your physician on supplementation of probiotics as part of your treatment/ management.
When to see a doctor
If you have a history of CD it is best to check with your physician to assess the risk of developing CD for you. However, if experience one of these symptoms or complications, it is highly advised to see a doctor:
- Bowel obstruction which cause vomiting or severe abdominal pain (requires emergency treatment)
- Fever with combined persistent symptoms
- Non-healing hemorrhoids