What is Crohn’s Disease
What is Crohn’s Disease?
Crohn’s Disease is a chronic inflammatory Bowel Disease. This is an autoimmune condition where the body attacks itself focusing on the digestive tract. It can affect the gastrointestinal tract anywhere from the mouth to the anus. Crohn’s causes inflammation and ulceration, as well as a plethora of other problems, to the lining of the digestive tract. The inflammation that this disease can cause is typically very deep rooted and often also causes fistula formation and abscess. Crohn’s Disease is chronic, meaning that it can have periods of remission and periods of flairs throughout a persons lifetime. The areas of inflammation and intestinal damage can be very patchy. Crohn’s is most commonly found in the terminal ileum and beginning of the colon but can have patchy spots all throughout the gastrointestinal tract.
This disease can not be cured and as of today, there is no known cause. There are many medications used to slow the progression of this disease, see my blog post here for some of those, but there is nothing out there yet that will cure it.
What are the symptoms of Crohn’s Disease?
Crohn’s disease looks and feels different from person to person. My disease is a little different than most people that I know with the disease. I like to say that we are all snowflakes in the world of inflammatory bowel disease and that we are have symptoms that manifest differently. That being said, some of the most common symptoms can be…
~Rectal Pain or feeling like you can’t completely empty your bowels
~Skin eruptions (I get little ulcers on my fingers and ankles that itch and bleed)
There are also many more extra intestinal symptoms. These symptoms can come and go but usually, unfortunately, most can be present during a flare or just in general.
How do we treat this disease?
Sometime Crohn’s disease sufferers will require several treatment at once to keep their symptoms under control. This is not always the case but usually there are many symptoms that need to be addressed. It is important to stay on top of your disease and slow the progression. I know this from personal experience! Like I said before, everyone is different, a treatment method that works for someone else may not work for your particular disease, but there are a handful of options to try.
The medications that are used for Crohn’s are generally ones that will suppress the immune system to stop the inflammation and heal the bowel. There are other options that will try to address the inflammation without suppression of the immune system. These are medications that are generally used in mild cases and can be taken for a life time. Discussing these options with your Doctor will help determine the best solution to the symptoms that you are experiencing.
Diet and Nutrition can play a big role in the reduction of symptoms. When any inflammatory bowel disease flairs up the sufferer can be nutrient deficient due to the bowel not absorbing the appropriate nutrition or just a plain lack of appetite and not eating the right foods. There are also times when a certain food may disagree with you and cause a flair up of sorts. Everyone must learn their ‘trigger foods’ and try to stay away from them. This process can take time but will help in the long run.
Surgery is also sometimes indicated when treating Crohn’s disease. Even when proper medication and diet and nutrition are used Crohn’s can still progress. This is when surgery can be indicated. Removal of the areas of bowel that are damaged can help improve the quality of life and possibly help the patient into a remission state.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease is extremely complex. Everyone’s disease is different. We are all different people with different genetics and lifestyles so the disease will affect us all differently. If you are reading this and struggling, you are not alone! Listen to your doctors, reach out for support and try to stay positive and keep fighting!
There are many upcoming treatments that are in the clinical trial phase that will hopefully be available in the future to help sufferers of inflammatory bowel disease. One that is very promising is the QBECO SSI! Click see my blog about that here!