Crohn’s Disease

crohns-disease-comparisonBy: Nikki Nies

I’ve talked about other gastrointestinal (GI) diseases before and the potential benefits of being on a Gluten Free diet or FODMAPS. However, I don’t want to be mistaken for writing as if these GI issues are somehow not worth noting the disparities.

I wanted to write about Crohn’s Disease as A) of all the GI diseases I’m least familiar with the root cause and treatment B) I try to take advantage of the opportunity to write on this blog to share awareness of GI issues with the public, but most importantly C) there’s a member of my campus ministry that has Crohn’s Disease.  I often don’t see him at our weekly devotionals due to his Crohn’s acting up, I was glad to see him these past few weeks, which means he’s obviously feeling well enough to be in public.  I went to hug him and he grimaced as I pulled away.  I felt bad because I could tell I had accidentally hurt him with my hug.

Of course, my hug was unintentionally painful.  I  had assumed his small stature was due to his inability to keep “food down”, but that was just an assumption and I wanted and needed to know the true story of Crohn’s.

So, as you can imagine this topic is new to me so as I write, I’m learning with you as well!

In 1932, Crohn’s Disease was first described by Dr. Burrill Crohn.  Crohn’s Disease belongs to the Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD), similar, but not the same as ulcerative colitis. Ulcerative colitis is restricted to inflammation in the large intestine.  Specifically, Crohn’s Disease is a chronic inflammatory disease of the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) and can include the entire thickness of the bowel wall. GIT is everything from the mouth and anus.

Specific causes of Crohn’s is not entirely clear, but it has been found that one’s genetics, environment, diet and stress can play a role in the development.  Since Crohn’s Ddisease can impact any part of GIT, the symptoms are few and far between.  However, some common symptoms include: stages-of-crohns-disease-chart

  • Persistent Diarrhea
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Urgent need to move bowels
  • Abdominal cramps and pain
  • Sensation of incomplete evacuation
  • Constipation, which can lead to bowel obstruction
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite**
  • Weight Loss**
  • Fatigue
  • Night sweats
  • Loss of normal menstrual cycle

For a complete, thorough diagnosis of Crohn’s Disease, make sure to consult your primary care physician and/or obtain an endoscopy,small intestinal imaging, chromoendoscopy, or biopsy.  In cases of severe circumstances, tears, also known as fissures, in the lining of the anus may cause intense pain and/or bleeding.  Moreover, fistula, which are tunnels that lead from one of intestine to another or connects to bladder, vagina or skin.  If this occurs, it requires immediate medical attention!

As a chronic disease, Crohn’s Disease requires continuous care and understanding that ‘flare ups’ may occur exacerbating some symptoms.  One of the treatment options is to limit the amount of irritation and stress one places on the GIT.  This means adopting a GI Soft Bland Diet may play a critical role in the maintenance and prevention of flare ups! Be on the look out for a follow up post regarding what a GI Soft Bland Diet entails!

Do you or a loved one have Crohn’s Disease, what habits have you adapted?  What have you learned over the course of your journey with Crohn’s Disease?

Photo Credit: Bio News


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