What is Crohn’s Disease?
Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory disease of the gastrointestinal system.
It is under a class of diseases called inflammatory bowel disease. It can affect any part of the gastrointestinal system from the mouth to the anus. Another disease that is categorized under inflammatory bowel disease is ulcerative colitis. They both have similar signs and symptoms but are two different diseases. Whereas Crohn’s disease can affect any part of the whole gastrointestinal system from the mouth to the anus, ulcerative colitis affects only the large intestine. Ulcerative colitis does not affect the whole layers of the gastrointestinal system, whereas Crohn’s disease can affect all the layers (of the wall) of the gastrointestinal system. The disease is named after Dr. Burril BCrohn. The incidence has increased over the recent years. Early life and elderly age are the two peak period of onset of the disease. Crohn’s disease is more common among the Scandinavians, developed countries of Europe, and also in the United States of America. There is no difference in the clinical manifestation of the disease between the whites and the non-white people. It has been suggested that it is more common among the people living in the urban areas than the people living in the rural areas. People that have the disease have been suggested to be smokers.
Factors that can Predispose You to Having Crohn’s Disease
- Your sex: The disease is more in females than males.
- Your ethnicity: It is more common in whites than non-whites.
- Your age: It usually affects people between eighteen to thirty-five years of age.
- Your location: It is more common among the people that live in Europe and in the United States of America
- Smoking: It is more common in smokers. So if you smoke, you are at risk.
- Your family history: You are more at risk if you have somebody as a close relative that has the disease
Signs and Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease
The signs and symptoms of Crohn’s disease include:
- Frequently recurring diarrhea: Diarrhea is increased in the fluidity, frequency, and volume of stool. It is the passage of loose stool. Loose stool is the stool that cannot take the shape of the container.
- Bleeding per rectum: This is the passage of blood in the stool. Blood that is from the rectum will be of brighter red coloration.
- Abdominal pain: Pain can be diffused, that is, it is felt throughout the abdomen, and it can also be localized to a part of the abdomen depending on the part of the gastrointestinal system that is affected. Diffuse pain can arise when any part of the gastrointestinal system is affected. If it is the esophagus that is affected, you can be feeling pain behind your sternum (breastbone). If it is your sigmoid colon (part of the large intestine) that is affected, you may be feeling pain in the lower part of your abdomen.
- Loss of weight: This can be as a result of the fear of pain while eating that people with Crohn’s disease usually experience. Because the lining of the gastrointestinal system is affected, people with the disease do feel pain as they eat. This can make them be afraid of eating and as a result of that, they may be losing weight.
- Fever: This is because the disease is as a result of low-grade inflammation.
- Reduction of appetite: This can be because people with Crohn’s disease do not want to be having pain while eating. They tend to avoid eating foods, most especially the ones that trigger their signs and symptoms.
- Fatigue: This can be due to the reduced oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood that occurs in these people. Some drugs that they also use e.g. methotrexate, azathioprine has fatigue as a side effect.
What Foods are Good for Crohn’s Disease?
There is no proven diet preferred for Crohn’s disease people. It has however been discovered that some food triggers the signs and symptoms of Crohn’s disease or makes them worse during the period of flare. Such foods should be avoided. Examples of such food include alcohol, butter, coffee, pork, foods with high fiber level. When you discover or take notice of foods that triggers or worsens your symptoms of Crohn’s disease you need to abstain from such foods. Another thing you can do is to learn new ways of cooking the foods that trigger or worsens your signs and symptoms. So you may not necessarily abstain totally from the foods that trigger your symptoms. If you have Crohn’ s disease and you are having a problem with absorption of nutrients, you will need to be eating high-calorie diets, diets rich in protein. You have to be eating these kinds of food even if you don’t feel like taking them or when you don’t feel like taking them. A dietician with the help of a gastroenterologist will be able to give you a diet plan. It will be good for you to be taking alongside the diet plan 2 to 3snacksper day. If the Crohn’s disease affects your small intestine most especially your ileum, you can be eating diets of low residue. Diets of low residue and that also have a low level of fiber can also help you to reduce your intensity of abdominal cramps and diarrhea. The keeping of daily food diary will also help you in managing this disease
Do Crohn’s Disease and Gluten-Free Diet go Hand in Hand?
Gluten-free diets are barley, wheat, and rye free. It is good that people with Crohn’s disease should abstain from a gluten-containing diet like wheat. One of the reasons for this is because Crohn’s disease and celiac disease are related. There is genetic variation between people that have Crohn’s disease and the people that have celiac disease. Crohn’s disease is an example of inflammatory bowel disease. It can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract, though it affects the ileum or the initial part of the large intestine more.
- Allman T. Crohn’s Disease. Detroit: Lucent Books; 2012.
- Morris J. Crohn’s Disease. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders; 2001.
- Crohn’s Disease. [Bethesda, MD] (2 Information Way, Bethesda 20892-3570): National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health; 1992.