This page is mainly for educating those who do not know about Crohn’s Disease and it’s effects on the body. As unpleasant and graphic as this sounds, I’m posting this because this is my life and the cards I’ve been dealt. I’ll be the first to make poop jokes, and I’m not overly sensitive about anything, but there’s no shame in this disease. For those of you with Crohn’s Disease visiting my page, there are also support groups if you are interested.
Crohn’s disease is a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It usually affects the intestines, but may occur anywhere from the mouth to the end of the rectum (anus)
The exact cause of Crohn’s disease is unknown. It is an autoimmune disorder. An autoimmune disorder is a condition that occurs when your body’s immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys healthy body tissue.
People with Crohn’s disease have ongoing (chronic) inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract (GI tract). Crohn’s disease may involve the small intestine, the large intestine, the rectum, or the mouth. The inflammation causes the intestinal wall to become thick.
Symptoms depend on what part of the gastrointestinal tract is affected. Symptoms range from mild to severe, and can come and go with periods of flare-ups.
The main symptoms of Crohn’s disease are crampy abdominal pain, fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, persistent diarrhea, weight loss, joint pain and swelling, fistulas, vomiting, inability to absorb nutrients, and bleeding.
No specific diet has been shown to make Crohn’s symptoms better or worse. Specific food problems may vary from person to person.
However, certain types of foods can make diarrhea and gas worse.
You may feel worried, embarrassed, or even sad and depressed about having a bowel accident. Other stressful events in your life, such as moving, a job loss, or the loss of a loved one can cause digestive problems.
You can take medication to treat very bad diarrhea. Loperamide (Imodium) can be bought without a prescription. Always talk to your doctor or nurse before using these drugs.
Other medicines to help with symptoms include:
- Fiber supplements may help your symptoms. You can buy psyllium powder (Metamucil) or methylcellulose (Citrucel) without a prescription. Ask your doctor about these products.
- Always talk to your doctor before using any laxative medicines.
- You may use acetaminophen (Tylenol) for mild pain.
- Drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn) may make your symptoms worse.
Your doctor may also give you a prescription for stronger pain medicines.
Medicines that may be prescribed include:
- Aminosalicylates (5-ASAs) are medicines that help control mild to moderate symptoms. Some forms of the drug are taken by mouth; others must be given rectally.
- Corticosteroids (prednisone and methylprednisolone) are used to treat moderate to severe Crohn’s disease. They may be taken by mouth or inserted into the rectum.
- Medicines such as azathioprine or 6-mercaptopurine quiet the immune system’s reaction.
- Antibiotics may be prescribed for abscesses or fistulas.
- Biologic therapy is used to treat patients with severe Crohn’s disease that does not respond to any other types of medication. Medicines in this group include Infliximab (Remicade) and adalimumab (Humira), certolizumab (Cimzia), and natalizumab (Tysabri).
If medicines do not work, a type of surgery called bowel resection may be needed to remove a damaged or diseased part of the intestine or to drain an abscess. However, removing the diseased portion of the intestine does not cure the condition.
Patients who have Crohn’s disease that does not respond to medications may need surgery, especially when there are complications such as:
- Bleeding (hemorrhage)
- Failure to grow (in children)
- Fistulas (abnormal connections between the intestines and another area of the body)
- Infections (abscesses)
- Narrowing (strictures) of the intestine
Some patients may need surgery to remove the entire large intestine (colon), with or without the rectum.
There is no cure for Crohn’s disease. The condition is marked by periods of improvement followed by flare-ups of symptoms.
It is very important to stay on medications long-term to try to keep the disease symptoms from returning. If you stop or change your medications for any reason, let your doctor know right away.
There is a higher risk for small bowel and colon cancer if you have Crohn’s disease.