Healthy Living

How to Avoid Making Crohn's Disease Worse

How to Avoid Making Crohn's Disease Worse

Anyone with Crohn’s or who knows a loved one with Crohn’s is aware of the many challenges it brings.

Dealing with the disease seems to create a need for an ongoing work-around of its common symptoms: diarrhea (or, conversely, constipation), malnutrition, and weight loss. Also, during periods of flare-ups, foul-smelling flatus is very common.

If you are a person with Crohn’s disease, it may feel like Crohn’s is controlling your life instead of you being in control of where your life takes you.

But, hey, there are some great tips by gastroenterologist David S. Lee, MD in a recent article that can boost your morale by helping you regain power in directing your life with Crohn’s. We will go into further detail.

Following are great tips that you can make note of:

  • Stop smoking- the effects of smoking can trigger Crohn’s disease, and also worsen the symptoms. The mucous cells may die due to chemicals in cigarette and re-growth can be prevented. Also the blood flow containing oxygen may decrease. Also the mucosal immune system may get infected by smoking. The health of the digestive tract and intestinal tract can improve by quitting smoking.
  • Keeping track of how the body reacts to food- a real threat for a person affected by Crohn’s disease is malnutrition. Diarrhoea can be increased by fatty foods. Also foods such as vegetables, fresh fruits, nuts and seeds are hard to digest. Sometimes high fibre food may also become difficult to digest. However, from person to person the dietary trigger may vary. Some by trial and error method find that certain foods can cause intolerance. Keep a list of such foods. With your gastroenterologist discuss your dietary needs. In reporting to your gastroenterologist any increase in weight loss or diarrhoea be proactive.
  • Avoid caffeine if required- sometimes the symptoms may become worse since caffeine can have laxative effect. Eliminate coffee and caffeinated beverages if diarrhoea is an issue.
  • Reduce alcohol- the effect of medications may be affected by alcohol. The ulcerated intestinal tract may bleed heavily since alcohol is also a tissue irritant. Either reduce its intake or eliminate it.
  • OTC medications- some may interfere with the working of Crohn’s disease medications. Also the inflammation of the digestive –intestinal tract may worsen due to these OTC medications. Discuss about your medicine input with your gastroenterologist.
  • Be regular with your appointments- Crohn’s disease may cause scarring of the mucus tissue in the intestinal/digestive tract. This may cause bowel obstruction which is a potentially fatal complication. Some conditions secondary to Crohn’s disease are Infected ulcerated fistulas, abscesses in the rectal region that are potentially life threatening.  The area of the colon may get swollen and paralyzed. The colon content is released into the abdominal cavity due to pressure. Thus can cause massive infection. The intestinal tract maintains the intestinal flora. They help in digestion of food. These beneficial intestinal bacteria are attacked by the immune system in people with Crohn’s disease. This creates bad bacteria in abundance causing a condition known as small intestinal bacteria overgrowth. Further this can cause intestinal infection.  They cause symptoms such as diarrhoea, bloating, pain and gas. In order to bring the colony of bacteria back into balance, treatment with antibiotics may be required. If not treated it may cause malabsorption. Hence keep all appointments with the gastroenterologist regular so that you can have a positive quality of life. You can call the office and speak to the doctor or nurse if you have any questions or concerns.

A positive attitude is very much essential for those with Crohn’s disease. It will take them a long way. A happier life can be guaranteed if the challenges are faced head on and any tendency to isolate is avoided. For those with Crohn’s you can seek community support groups and adopt the mantra ‘Don’t isolate’. You can expand your opportunities with the help of these support groups.