What is Crohn’s disease?
Crohn’s disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease. Researchers do not know how this disease begins. Despite significant advances in treatment over the past three decades, there is currently no cure for this disease. Crohn’s disease most commonly occurs in the small intestine and colon. However, the disease can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract, from the mouth and epiglottis to the anus. The disease may affect certain parts of the gastrointestinal tract, while overlooking other parts of the digestive tube. The range of severity can be from mild to debilitating. Symptoms may change over time. In some people, the disease can lead to life-threatening flare-ups and complications.
It is not clear what causes Crohn’s disease. However, the following factors can influence the onset of Crohn’s disease: immune system status, genetic predisposition, living environment, up to 20 percent of people with Crohn’s disease have a parent, child or brother with the disease, also among the factors contributing to the disease, long-term or chronic stress .
Several factors can affect the severity of symptoms: smoking, age, presence of rectal disease, duration of illness. People with Crohn’s disease are also more likely to develop intestinal infections, which can be caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi. This can affect the severity of symptoms and cause complications.
What are the symptoms of Crohn’s disease?
The symptoms of Crohn’s disease often develop gradually. Some of them may become more pronounced over time. Although it is possible, symptoms rarely develop suddenly and abruptly. The earliest symptoms of Crohn’s disease may include: diarrhea, cramping pain in the lower right abdomen, blood in the stool, fever, fatigue, loss of appetite and weight, feeling incompletely evacuated after a bowel movement, frequent urge to defecate.
Sometimes these symptoms can be mistaken for symptoms of another illness, such as food poisoning, indigestion, or allergies. You should contact your doctor if any of these symptoms occur frequently.
As Crohn’s disease progresses, symptoms may become more severe, such as: a perianal fistula, which causes pain and leakage; ulcers, which can occur anywhere from the mouth to the anus inflammation of the joints and skin; shortness of breath or decreased physical activity due to an increase in anemia.
Diagnosing Crohn’s disease is not always easy or straightforward. As a rule, this is a joint hard work of a whole team of doctors and the diagnosis is made on the basis of a combination of results. The most modern and accurate diagnosis of Crohn’s disease to date is endoscopy of the digestive tract with a mandatory examination of the ileum during colonoscopy, biopsy and histological examination of this material, laboratory diagnostics, MRI of the intestine with filling the small intestine with contrast or water.
Dietary recommendations for people with Crohn’s disease
A diet plan that works for one person with Crohn’s disease may not work for another. This is because the disease can affect different parts of the gastrointestinal tract in different people. It’s important to figure out what works best for you. This can be done by monitoring the symptoms of Crohn’s disease as certain foods are added or removed from the diet. Changes in your diet and lifestyle can help you reduce the recurrence of symptoms and reduce their severity. Unhealthy foods such as very fatty foods, spicy foods, smoked meats, and fast food should be avoided. And also get rid of bad habits: drinking alcohol and smoking. This principle of nutrition should be followed throughout life.
If you have been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, you should:
- Regulate fiber intake. Some people need a diet high in fiber and protein. For others, the presence of fiber-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables in the diet can aggravate the condition of the gastrointestinal tract. If this happens, you may need to switch to a no- slag diet.
- Limit fat intake. Crohn’s disease can affect the body’s ability to break down and absorb fat. This excess fat will pass from the small intestine into the rectum, which can lead to diarrhea.
- Limit your intake of dairy products. Previously, you may not have had lactose intolerance, but the body may have difficulty absorbing milk proteins in Crohn’s disease. Consumption of dairy products can lead to indigestion, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea in some people.
- Drink water. Crohn’s disease can affect your body’s ability to absorb water from your digestive tract. This can lead to dehydration. The risk of dehydration is especially high if you have diarrhea or bleeding.
- Consider alternative sources of vitamins and minerals. Crohn’s disease can affect your gut’s ability to absorb other nutrients from food properly. Foods high in nutrients and vitamins and minerals may not be enough. Talk to your doctor about taking multivitamins.
Treatments for Crohn’s disease.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for Crohn’s disease, but the disease can be managed. A variety of treatment options and their combination can reduce the severity and frequency of symptoms of the disease. The use of drugs. More than four classes of drugs are used to treat Crohn’s disease. The first line of treatment includes anti-inflammatory drugs. In severe forms of Crohn’s disease, hormones may be prescribed. And in almost all cases, the intake of a vitamin complex is indicated, since the body’s absorption of nutrients is reduced and the intake of vitamins can supplement the necessary substances and get rid of some problems. More advanced options include biologics that connect the body’s immune system to treatment.
Diet changes. Food does not cause Crohn’s disease, but it can aggravate the disease. First, your doctor will ask you to keep a food diary. This food diary details what you ate and how you reacted to that food.
Surgery. If less invasive treatments and lifestyle changes do not change or improve Crohn’s disease, surgery may be needed. Ultimately, about 70% of people with Crohn’s disease require surgery at some point in their lives. Some types of surgery may involve removing damaged parts of the digestive tract and restoring healthy parts. Other procedures and manipulations may be needed to repair damaged tissue, treat scar tissue, or treat infections.