The first week of December each year is Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Week! Crohn’s disease is inflammation of the tissue in your digestive tract. The inflammation most often occurs in the small intestine but can also spread to the large intestine.
People who suffer from Crohn’s disease may experience frequent abdominal pain, diarrhea, bloody stool, and malnutrition. This disease can be extremely uncomfortable and painful, especially when there isn’t a bathroom nearby, and may lead to complications that are life-threatening.
Complications that can develop as part of Crohn’s disease include ulcers and bowel obstruction. When ulcers—open sores—develop in your digestive tract, they can burst quite easily, leading to bleeding. A bowel obstruction occurs when the intestines become so inflamed that the patient can’t pass bowel movements as normal.
What Causes Crohn’s Disease?
The exact cause of Crohn’s disease is not known, but genetics and compromised immune systems may play a role. People who have family members with Crohn’s disease are more likely to have it themselves. Additionally, Crohn’s disease is more prevalent in people with an autoimmune disease.
Is There a Cure for Crohn’s Disease?
Unfortunately, there is not a known cure for Crohn’s disease. However, there are options to help address and manage the symptoms.
Some medications can be effective in managing mild symptoms of Crohn’s disease. It is important to talk to your doctor about your options and your medical history before starting any medications.
People with Crohn’s will also need to closely monitor their diet. While fiber is good for healthy bacteria in the gut, foods that are high in fiber may be hard to digest. People with Crohn’s should be wary of the following foods and note whether or not they cause flares:
- Raw fruits and vegetables
- Spicy foods
- Meat with high fat content
- Dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese)
- Butter, mayonnaise, some oils
- Beans, legumes, broccoli, cabbage
- Whole grains
By noting and then avoiding the “trigger foods” that cause the intestine to flare, people with Crohn’s can reduce painful inflammatory symptoms.
Many patients may need to remove damaged sections of their small or large intestine to reduce their symptoms and address complications from Crohn’s. This procedure can affect the way nutrients are absorbed into the body.
If you think you have Crohn’s disease or another type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), talk to your doctor for more information or to learn about treatment.
This blog post is meant for informational purposes only and does not constitute professional medical advice.