Crohn’s Disease is a condition that causes inflammation of the digestive system or gut. Crohn’s can affect any part of the gut, although the most common area affected is the last part of the small intestine.
Areas of inflammation are often patchy with sections of normal gut in between. The inflamed area may be small, only a few centimetres, or extend quite a distance. As well as affecting the lining of the bowel, Crohn’s may also go deeper into the gut wall. It’s one of the two main forms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). The other is Ulcerative Colitis.
Crohn’s Disease is a chronic condition. This means that it is ongoing and life-long, although there may be long periods of good health, as well as times when symptoms are more active and a relapse occurs.
The symptoms range from mild to severe and can change over time, too. However, the most common are:
•Abdominal pain and diarrhoea
•Tiredness and fatigue
•Feeling generally unwell or feverish
•Loss of appetite and weight loss
•Anaemia (a reduced level of red blood cells)
According to the charity Crohn’s and Colitis UK, the chronic condition affects at least 115,000 people in the UK and millions more worldwide. The condition is more common in urban areas and in northern developed countries – although it’s on the increase in developing nations. Crohn’s Disease is also more likely to appear in white people of European descent, especially those descended from Ashkenazi Jews in Eastern Europe and Russia. The disease can start at any age, but usually appears for the first time between 10 and 40. Surveys suggest that new cases of Crohn’s are being diagnosed more often, particularly among teenagers and children. It’s slightly more common in women than in men, and also in smokers.
Living with a chronic condition like Crohn’s can have both an emotional and practical.
Regular visits to the GP are extremely important and remaining in touch with the hospital IBD team is critical. Building a good, informed relationship with the people who support treatment is a key issue as it will make managing the condition far less stressful.
Flare-ups can be disruptive to relationships and work. It is very helpful if those suffering from Crohn’s are open about their illness and its symptoms with friends and colleagues as there are times when both professional and personal environments are disrupted. Telling family and close friends is effective in terms of re-assurance and in ensuring an effective level of support.
Diet is considered a factor by many people with the condition. Although there’s no clear evidence that any food directly causes or improves Crohn’s, some people have found that certain foods seem to trigger symptoms or make them worse. Almost without exception sufferers say that spicy food or food that can ferment within the gut is a problem. It is nearly always advised that those with the disease limit alcohol and overly processed food and eliminate smoking.
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©RiverTribe Magazine 2017