For those living with Crohn’s Disease, you know how challenging it can be to manage your symptoms and live a normal life. Whether it is the pain, the unpredictability of your symptoms, or the need to adhere to a restrictive diet and have frequent doctor visits, you may feel overwhelmed at times trying to navigate this condition. But all hope is not lost! By having proper knowledge and understanding of Crohn’s Disease, along with taking steps to manage it properly, it is possible to live a healthy, happy life despite this condition.
What Is Crohn’s Disease?
Crohn’s disease is a chronic condition that causes inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. It can last for years and may affect any part of the digestive system, including the mouth, stomach, small intestine, and large intestine. Typically, Crohn’s Disease affects the end of the small intestine, known as the ileum.
This part of the body is responsible for absorbing essential nutrients from food, so when it is affected by Crohn’s Disease, you may experience a range of symptoms as a result. Each of these can make living with this condition challenging and stressful.
Symptoms Of Crohn’s Disease
Depending on where the inflammation occurs and how severe it is, the symptoms of Crohn’s Disease can vary. Most commonly, people with this condition experience pain and cramping in their abdomen, diarrhea or constipation that lasts for several days at a time, rectal bleeding or bloody stools, extreme fatigue, fever, and weight loss.
In addition, those with more severe cases of Crohn’s may also experience:
- extreme thirst and dehydration
- a lack of appetite
- bad breath and body odor
- skin rashes or lesions around the anus that don’t heal properly
- joint pain and swelling
- mouth ulcers, rectal prolapse (when part of the intestines sticks out through the anus)
- liver problems
- kidney stones
Causes Of Crohn’s Disease
Although the exact cause of Crohn’s Disease is still unknown, many factors can contribute to it. These may include heredity or genetics (you are more likely to develop this condition if you have a family history of it), an abnormal reaction in the immune system, smoking, and certain medications.
Some other suspected causes of Crohn’s Disease:
- Having a diet high in sugar and processed foods
- Drinking too much alcohol or caffeine
- Taking antibiotics frequently
- Being overweight or underweight
- Exposure to toxins or irritants (such as food additives or chemicals)
- An intestinal infection caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites
Diagnosing Crohn’s Disease
Diagnosing Crohn’s Disease can be a complicated and lengthy process, but it can be done with the right medical team and careful testing. Each patient’s experience when being diagnosed is unique, and different tests may be necessary depending on symptoms and health history. First, family history is usually taken into account as an indicator of genetic risks. Testing may involve blood work to measure inflammation levels, imaging such as ultrasounds or MRIs to check for structural changes in the digestive tract, and endoscopies to get a closer look at the organs and tissue affected.
Keeping track of your own symptoms over time with a journal or calendar can also help generate clues that lead to a diagnosis. With patience and comprehensive tests, getting an accurate diagnosis of Crohn’s Disease is possible.
Tips For Living With Crohn’s Disease
If you are currently living with Crohn’s Disease, there are a number of things that you can do to manage your condition and live a healthy, happy life. These include:
Limit Your Alcohol Consumption
People with Crohn’s disease may find that alcoholic drinks can trigger flare-ups and worsen their symptoms, so limiting or avoiding their drinking altogether is wise. For those who do drink alcohol, there are a few things to be aware of. When choosing which type of alcoholic drink to consume, pay attention to its contents and how your body responds. A high sugar content could worsen the inflammation in the gut and increase abdominal pain, whereas a higher alcohol content has been linked to an increased risk of bleeding.
Alcohol can also lead to dehydration, one of the most common side effects of Crohn’s disease. So while it is possible for some individuals with Crohn’s Disease to drink judiciously in moderation as healthy individuals would, careful considerations should be taken before doing so.
Practice Stress Management
Living with Crohn’s disease can be a difficult and stressful experience. It can cause you to feel overwhelmed and, if not managed correctly, can even lead to depression or anxiety. For this reason, it is essential for people with Crohn’s to practice effective stress management techniques. In addition, implementing stress reduction activities such as yoga, mindfulness meditation, and breathing exercises into your daily routine are essential elements of self-care for a Crohn’s patient.
Even taking five minutes each day to focus on calming activities will help you manage the physical and emotional fatigue that comes from living with a chronic illness like Crohn’s disease. Additionally, try to remind yourself that there is hope and that the chronic nature of your condition means it can fluctuate – meaning there will be both good days and bad days. By properly managing your stress levels, you have the potential to live a full and fulfilling life despite your diagnosis.
Make Changes To Your Diet
Making dietary changes to manage Crohn’s disease is a critical part of the process. People with this condition need to stay on top of the foods they eat, as certain foods can cause their symptoms to flare up. When looking at potential changes, it is crucial to consider the types of food and beverage consumed, as well as portion size. For example, those living with Crohn’s may wish to eliminate raw fruits and vegetables from their diet and stick with cooked, mashed, or pureed options instead.
Additionally, drinking plenty of fluids throughout the day is beneficial for people with this chronic illness because it helps avoid dehydration. Making these changes can help reduce Crohn’s flares and maintain a better quality of life.
Get Plenty Of Exercise
For individuals with Crohn’s disease, regular exercise has been shown to help decrease the symptoms associated with the condition. By increasing strength and helping to improve metabolism, exercise can lead to tangible benefits in those with Crohn’s Disease. Moreover, vigorous physical activity can also provide tremendous psychological benefits – reducing anxiety, improving mood, and contributing to a healthier overall outlook on life.
As always, before beginning any fitness regimen, it is important to consult with a healthcare provider experienced in managing Crohn’s Disease. However, when done under medical supervision, exercise can be an incredibly powerful aid for people living with this chronic condition.
Living A Healthy Life With Crohn’s Disease Is Possible!
If you are living with Crohn’s Disease, don’t feel like you are alone. Many effective strategies can be used to manage this chronic illness and maintain a high quality of life. And if you are looking for additional ways to cope with your condition, support groups, healthcare providers, and other resources are available to help you on your journey. So take charge of your health today and start making positive changes that can improve the quality of your life with Crohn’s Disease!