How to Avoid Making Crohn's Disease Worse
Anyone with Crohn’s disease or who knows a loved one with the condition is aware of the many challenges it brings.
Dealing with the disease creates the constant need to work around its common symptoms: diarrhea (or, conversely, constipation), malnutrition, and weight loss. During periods of flare-ups, foul-smelling flatus is very common as well.
If you are a person with Crohn’s disease, it may feel like the condition is controlling your life instead of you being in control of where your life takes you.
However, there are some great tips by gastroenterologist David S. Lee, MD in a recent article that can boost your morale by helping you regain the power to direct your life, even with Crohn’s. We will go into further detail.
The following are some great tips you can make use of to help manage your condition:
- Stop smoking: Smoking can trigger Crohn’s disease as well as worsen its symptoms. The mucous cells may die due to the chemicals in cigarettes, and cell regrowth can be inhibited. Also, the blood flow containing oxygen may decrease, and the mucosal immune system may become infected as well. The health of the digestive tract and intestinal tract can be improved by quitting smoking.
- Keep track of how your body reacts to food: A real threat for someone affected by Crohn’s disease is malnutrition. Diarrhea can be increased through the consumption of fatty foods. Also, foods such as vegetables, fresh fruits, nuts, and seeds can be hard to digest. Sometimes, high-fiber food may also be difficult to digest. However, the dietary triggers can vary from person to person. Some use the trial and error method to find what foods cause an intolerance. Keep a list of such foods. Discuss your dietary needs with your gastroenterologist and report any significant weight loss or diarrhea.
- Avoid caffeine, if required: Sometimes, the symptoms of Crohn’s may worsen due to caffeine since it can have a laxative effect. Eliminate coffee and caffeinated beverages if diarrhea is an issue.
- Reduce alcohol intake: Alcohol may hinder the effects of medications. The ulcerated intestinal tract may bleed heavily since alcohol is also a tissue irritant. So, either reduce your alcohol intake or eliminate it completely.
- OTC medications: Some over-the-counter medicines may interfere with Crohn’s disease medications. Also, the inflammation of the digestive/intestinal tract may worsen due to these medicines. Be sure to discuss your medicine intake with your gastroenterologist.
- Keep up with your appointments: Crohn’s disease may cause scarring of the mucus tissue in the intestinal/digestive tract. This can lead to bowel obstruction, which is a potentially fatal complication. Some conditions secondary to Crohn’s disease include infected ulcerated fistulas and abscesses in the rectal region, which are potentially life-threatening. The area of the colon may become swollen and paralyzed, thus releasing the colon’s contents into the abdominal cavity due to pressure. This, then, can cause a massive infection. The intestinal tract maintains the intestinal flora, which help to digest food. These beneficial intestinal bacteria are attacked by the immune system in people with Crohn’s disease. This creates an abundance of bad bacteria, causing a condition known as small intestinal bacteria overgrowth, which can lead to an intestinal infection. The symptoms include diarrhea, bloating, pain, and gas. In order to bring the bacterial colony back into balance, treatment with antibiotics may be required. If not treated, it may cause malabsorption. So, keep regular appointments with your gastroenterologist so that you can maintain 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 essential for those with Crohn’s disease. A happier life can be achieved if the challenges are faced head on and any tendency to isolate is avoided. People with Crohn’s can seek out community support groups and adopt the mantra “Don’t isolate.” You can expand your opportunities with the help of these groups.