Are You Aware of the Symptoms and Options for Crohn’s Disease?

Whole grains with seeds can increase the severity of Crohn’s disease symptoms.

Crohn’s disease (CD) has grown from just under two million people to over three million in less than twenty years. It is an autoimmune disease of the intestinal system and can affect your skin, joints, bones, eyes, kidneys, and liver.

Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease CD can affect many areas of the body. Most of the time, symptoms are related to the gastrointestinal tract – diarrhea, rectal bleeding, urgent need to move your bowels, abdominal cramps, constipation, and the urge to vacate your bowels and unable to.

Symptoms seen outside the GI tract include redness and pain in the eyes with possible changes in vision, mouth sores, swollen joints, fever, loss of appetite, fatigue, night sweats, and more. Severe cases of CD have fissures or tears in the lining of the anus, fistulas (an abnormal channel that forms between one part of the intestine and another – requires immediate medical attention!), and strictures (a narrowing of the intestine caused by inflammation).

People with CD may lose weight and become anemic. Ulcers in the mouths and gut are common. Pain is persistent where inflammation is present. CD can start at any age but is usually seen in childhood or early adulthood. It is not unusual for CD to cause flare-ups of arthritis, uveitis (inflammation of the middle layer of the eye, the uvea), skin rashes, and liver or bile duct inflammation.

Types of Crohn’s Disease Each of the five types of CD affects different areas of the GI tract. Ileocolitis is the most common and affects the small and large intestines. Ileitis affects only the small intestine. The gastroduodenal CD is associated with the stomach and the beginning of the small intestine. Jejunoeleitis is primarily located in the upper portion of the small intestine, the jejunum. Crohn’s colitis affects only the colon. Many of the symptoms of each type are similar, such as diarrhea and pain.

Causes and Diagnosis of CD Causes of many autoimmune diseases are unknown. Some scientists believe that CD is an abnormal reaction to something instead caused by bacteria, such as Escherichia coli. Genetic and environmental factors are considered to be causes of an autoimmune flare-up that results in CD.

Many times, our immune system malfunctions due to an interaction with a virus or bacteria. When the immune system is challenged, it does not repel foreign invaders, triggering an unwanted autoimmune response. Medical scientists do not know precisely what causes CD. However, smoking appears to be a risk factor.

Blood and stool samples are analyzed, A biopsy may be performed. A sigmoidoscopy (a short, flexible tube) can be used to inspect the lower bowel visually. A colonoscopy, a tool like a sigmoidoscope, assesses the colon. Another scope, the endoscope, is fed through your throat and into your stomach. Sometimes a CT scan or barium enema X-ray is used to diagnose the bowel.

Diagnosis must discern between CD and ulcerative colitis (UC); both are irritable bowel diseases (IBD). CD can affect any area of the GI tract – most often, it attacks the small intestine. UC occurs primarily in the large intestine, your colon, and the rectum.

CD damage appears in patches next to healthy tissue, and that damage may invade several layers of the GI tract walls. UC damage is continuous – not patchy like CD – and usually starts at the rectum and spreads into the colon. Inflammation remains in the innermost lining layer of the colon.
IBS, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), is a gastric disease different from CD and UC in that inflammation is not found in the colon. Constipation, diarrhea, and abdominal pain are common with IBS.

Treatment of CD Most people with CD are constantly aware of the foods they eat. Whole grains, dairy, alcohol, and spicy foods increase diarrhea and cramping. Vegetables and fruits with their peals, raw green vegetables, fruits containing seeds, nuts, and other foods increase the severity of CD symptoms.

Highly refined grains (pasta, white rice, white bread, etc.), oatmeal (quick or rolled oats), low-fiber fruits (bananas, watermelon, cantaloupe, etc.), peeled or poached fruit, cooked and peeled vegetables, juices low in fiber), lean meat (low in fat – skinless chicken and turkey, for example), oily fish (salmon, tune, and others), eggs, soy, tofu, yogurt, and green tea are good food choices for those with CD.

Anti-inflammatory drugs, steroids, antibiotics, anti-diarrheal, and fluid replacement drinks are used to treat CD. In addition, some doctors recommend anti-tumor necrosis factor agents, integrin receptor antagonists, anti-interleukin-12, and anti-Janus kinase 1 drugs. Biologic drugs (developed from living organisms) are also available to treat CD.

For those unresponsive to diet and drugs, surgery is an option. Unfortunately, removing part of your intestine does not cure CD, and the disease can reestablish itself over time.


CD is not a life-threatening disease but can cause complications that sometimes are fatal (colorectal cancer for one). A person’s life expectancy does not change with CD, and each person must be continually attentive to their ever-changing situation (stress, lifestyle choices, etc.). However, most people with CD can manage their symptoms.

Live Longer & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughlin –


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