Crohn’s disease, or also called CD, is a type of non-contagious, inflammatory bowel disease which affects the digestive system, and the walls of both the small intestine and large intestine. Experts still don’t know what causes it, but it is said that bacterial infection is the main culprit. Crohn’s disease is somewhat similar to ulcerative colitis or UC, except that it can affect even the whole digestive tract and the bowel walls. Crohn’s disease can lead to worst digestive dilemmas, so if you suspect that you have it, you must treat it immediately.
Recognize The Symptoms
Knowing the symptoms of Crohn’s disease will help you determine whether you have this ailment or not.
- Diarrhea. It occurs because of partial obstruction of the bowels and excessive bacterial growth in the small bowels. Poor nutrient absorption, large intestine inflammation and bile acids can also cause this. Oftentimes, blood comes with the stool. (Tips on how to treat diarrhea)
- Abdominal pain similar to getting cramps. It often occurs at the right side of the abdomen, and might be mistaken for appendicitis.
Other signs of CD that might occur less frequently are:
- Diminished appetite and weight loss.
- Low-grade fever
- Low iron levels
Diagnosing For Crohn’s Disease
The symptoms of Crohn’s disease are similar to many internal ailment. To confirm whether you have this problem, consult your physician. With the help of your health history and several physical exams, she’ll help you determine whether you have Crohn’s disease or not.
- Blood testing – Signs of inflammation or anemia are determined.
- Stool sampling – To see if there is infection or blood in your bowel.
- Barium enema – A fluid with barium substance is inserted in the rectum. This lets the doctor see and x-ray your colon.
- Upper GI (Gastrointestinal) Series – Just like the enema method, this also uses barium. You are to drink a chalky liquid with barium, then x-rays are taken.
- Colonoscopy – A thin tube with a light is placed through the rectum, then in the colon, so the whole colon lining can be seen.
- CT Scan – Barium is ingested, and a dye is also placed in the blood. These will then show up on CT scans.
Once you’ve confirmed that you have Crohn’s disease, you can now proceed to proper treatment of this dilemma.
Your physician will recommend a set of medications to treat the ailment and alleviate the symptoms. If no improvements are seen, then he or she will add or change the prescription. Some common examples of medication prescribed are:
- Antidiarrheal medications, such as loperamide are ideal for mild symptoms, stopping painful spasms in the intestine.
- Aminosalicylates (mesalamine or sulfasalazine) will manage most of the painful symptoms.
- Antibiotics (metronidazole or ciprofloxacin) can be taken with aminosalicylates.
- Corticosteroids (prednisone or budesonide) can be given to control inflammations. This medication might have other side effects, so they must be taken in moderation.
- Medications for suppressing the immune system can be taken if the above medicines don’t work or if symptoms come back.
Improve Your Diet
Since the problem is in the digestive system, it’s only sensible for your diet to be modified to ensure that treatment will go along smoothly. Here are some diet tips to remember
- Add foods that don’t have any acidity, and won’t irritate the digestive system. Celery, kale, garlic, broccoli, brown rice, Brussel sprouts, papaya and oatmeal are some examples.
- Avoid foods that are histamine-high. This is a compound which includes nitrogen. Most Crohn’s disease patients have a histamine intolerance, so make sure you avoid foods with it, so the symptoms will be relieved. Examples of food to avoid are wine, tomatoes, dairy products and spinach.
- Stay away from foods that can irritate your digestive tract, such as carbonated drinks, caffeinated drinks, eggs, meat, fatty fried foods, popcorn, spicy foods, chocolate and alcohol.
- Always cook vegetables before eating them. You can boil bake or steam them. Add little or no seasoning.
Also, you should try not to overeat, to ensure that your digestion goes smoothly. Take small bites and chew your food thoroughly.
Try Herbal Remedies
There are also safe alternative remedies that will help ease Crohn’s disease. Here are some examples.
- Red clover – Extracted from a perennial flower, this was first used in China and Russia for medicinal purposes. It helps clean the blood and decrease inflammation. Buy it as a tea, tincture or capsule from a health foods store. Make sure you take the recommended dosage. Be cautious when using it though. People with heart ailments and women who are breastfeeding, taking birth control pills or have cervical, breast or ovarian cancer should not take this.
- Aloe vera juice – Drink half a cup twice a day to soften the stool. Use it occasionally, to cleanse the bowels gently. It can have a laxative effect, so avoid using it for long periods of time. Breastfeeding and pregnant women must not take this though, and diabetic patients should consult it with their physician first.
- Cod liver oil – It doesn’t taste good, but it’s rich in Omega-3 fish oil, it will help reduce inflammation. Take one teaspoon a day. A few side effects of this are nausea, gas or bloating.
Turn To Surgery
Surgery can help relieve the symptoms of CD but cannot cure it. The inflammation tends to return next to the part of intestine that was removed. So, people considering surgery for CD should carefully weigh the risks and benefits.
When the symptoms become too unbearable, the most highly-recommended option is to undergo surgery. A proper procedure will help correct problems such as fistulae, intestinal bleeding or blockage, as well as relieve symptoms. Although it’s highly efficient, it can’t completely cure the problem, though.
- Small bowel resection. The damaged intestine part is taken away and the two healthy ends are attached together.
- Stricturoplasty. An area of the intestine that became smaller is opened up.
- Colectomy. A small part of the colon, or the whole rectum or colon is taken away. After doing this, the doctor needs to create another way for the body to dispose of the waste. A small opening, called a stoma, is made in the abdomen, and drains the stool from the small and large intestine. There’s a pouch placed over the opening, so the waste will be collected.
Having Crohn’s disease is never a good thing. With proper diet, the right medications and a healthy lifestyle, you can get rid and get your digestive system back on track. If you learn from this article, you’ll surely be interested in reading how to do a colon cleanse.
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