Digestive Disorders - Crohn's Disease


Crohn’s disease is a type of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). It causes inflammation or tissue damage anywhere along the digestive tract which runs from the mouth all the way down to the anus. Most commonly it affects the small intestine and the beginning of the large intestine (colon).


People with Crohn's disease can have periods of severe flare up of the symptoms, when the disease is active, followed by symptom free periods that may last for weeks or months. Symptoms vary depending on the part of the digestive tract that is affected.


Common Symptoms:

  • Diarrhoea

  • Ulcers in the mouth or gut

  • Abdominal cramping and pain

  • Loss of appetite and weight loss

  • Fatigue

  • Fever

  • Blood in stools

  • Anal fissures

Although there is no sufficient research to suggest the exact cause of this disease, there are certain factors which can raise your risk of Crohn's disease.


Risk Factors:

  • Family history and genetics can influence inheritance of the disease

  • Smoking can make Crohn’s more severe

  • Certain medications can lead to inflammation of the bowels which can make the condition worse

  • Abnormal immune system function is a leading cause

  • Eating a lot of high-fat or processed foods can increase the risk of Crohn’s.

  • Stress, depression, anxiety, and lack of sleep also worsen the condition

Diagnosis:

Diagnosis is done based on a combination of tests and procedures. Blood test, stool test, colonoscopy, CT scan, etc are some of them. The doctor will also need to know about the patient's medical history and family history. A physical exam may include checking for abdomen bloating, sounds within the abdomen using a stethoscope, tapping on the abdomen to check for tenderness and pain.


Treatment:

Treatments for Crohn’s disease help in easing the symptoms and allowing the patient to live an active life. Doctors may prescribe a number of medications based on the patients severity of the disease and response to different drugs. After a Crohn’s diagnosis, the doctor will likely suggest making an appointment with a Registered Dietitian (RD). A RD can help the patient understand how food may affect symptoms and recommend an appropriate diet to help relieve symptoms.


Common Diet Recommendations:

  • Yogurt and rice were more frequently reported to improve symptoms

  • Raw fruits and vegetables may need to be avoided as they may increase the symptoms during active phase

  • Red meat, fried foods, spicy foods, popcorn, nuts, milk, soda, and alcohol were more frequently reported to worsen symptoms in patients with Crohn’s

  • It is advisable to eat smaller meals more often

  • It is advisable to avoid carbonated drinks

  • Keep a food diary to help identify foods that cause problems

  • Some people may need to go on a special diet, such as a low-fibre diet

Most people with Crohn’s disease do enjoy healthy and active lives. Crohn’s disease is a long term disorder and there is no permanent cure for it. Treatments from a qualified health professional, lifestyle changes and an appropriate diet plan from a registered dietitian can keep the disease under control and prevent complications.


About the Author: Preetha Sanjeev has teaching experience of over 15years and has completed her Kindergarten & Montessori Teachers Training. She also holds the Cambridge International Diploma for Teachers and Trainers. Preetha has a passion for fitness and nutrition and holds multiple certifications in both. She is a qualified pre & postnatal yoga instructor, with advanced certification as a yoga instructor for children. Her understanding of the subject matter and easy writing skills make her an invaluable part of the Juvenate Team. For more information about us, please visit us at www.juvenatewellbeing.org.



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