Crones Disease

Crones disease refers to Crohn’s disease which is an Inflammatory Bowel Disease (commonly known as IBD) that affects approximately 500,000 people in the U. S. Most people are diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 35, although it is becoming more common in young people under the age of 18. Men and women are equally affected by it, while it is more likely to occur in people of European descent. In is a disease of the developed world, mostly occurring in the U. S. and Europe. And it is more common in urban areas as opposed to rural areas, in northern climates as opposed to southern climates. The direct cause of Crohn’s, however, is unknown. Most scientists agree on a combination of genetic and environmental factors with malfunction of immune system.

It is a chronic disease that may occur anywhere in gastrointestinal (GI) tract but most often at the end of small intestine and the beginning of large intestine (colon.) Undetermined factors trigger our immune system, which normally protects our bodies from infections, to attack itself. Once the system is “on”, it requires medical intervention to turn it “off”.

Symptoms & Complications

Symptoms of Crohn’s disease as well as degree of severity vary greatly from person to person. Most common symptoms are persistent diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloody stools and fatigue. Loss of appetite and weight loss are other common symptoms. Children diagnosed with Crohn’s may experience delayed growth and sexual development. Periods of remission alternate with “flare ups”. It is possible to experience virtually no symptoms of the disease during remission. Process of diagnosis of Crohn’s disease requires a series of tests, including blood work and endoscopy. Symptoms of Crohn’s are very similar to those of Ulcerative Colitis, with about 10% of diagnoses wavering between the two.

Crones disease (Crohn’s disease) can lead to many complications. Most common complication is obstruction of the intestine due to swelling or formation of scar tissue. Another complication is formation of fissures (small cuts) and abscesses (basically, pimples) and fistulas (abnormal passages that may connect loops of intestine or intestine to other organs.) In these cases, surgical intervention is necessary to control the disease as well as alleviate pain or discomfort. Severe cases of Crohn’s may require removal of part of the intestine, sometime necessitating an external bag for collecting bodily waste. Many Crohn’s patients will eventually require surgery.

How to Diagnose

It can’t be diagnosed with any one single test. Since the symptoms are similar to other digestive issues, your physician will perform a complete and thorough examination to include possibly one or more of the following.

Blood test: To check for anemia. May include a test of patients white blood cell count, erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) or C-reactive protein (CRP) used to test for inflammation of the body.

Stool samples: Tested for signs of bleeding and/or infection.

Upper GI X-rays: Irregularities within the intestinal wall that may indicate areas of inflammation.

CT scan: Scan to look for an active infection or abscess

Colonoscopy and/or Sigmoidoscopy: A tube with attached video camera searches for inflammation or bleeding in the intestines. Diagnosis of Crohn’s disease is usually made by comparing finding of an endoscopy in a patient with another patient’s compatible history. If a suspect area is noticed, a sample of tissue may be collected for additional examination.

Medications for Crohn’s disease:

Medications may be administered dependent upon a patient’s symptoms and may include one or more of the following.

Aminosalicylates: Prescribed for mild to moderate related issues, Aminosalicylates are used to fight inflammation by releasing anti-inflammatory medication directly to the intestinal tract.

Steriods: Used to control inflammation in patients with mild to moderate symptoms and may help relax flare-ups. Not used for long term due to serious side effects.

Antibiotics: May be used to help control inflammation by reducing levels of bacteria.

Immunosuppressant agents: Used to block immune system activities that may be responsible for Crohn’s disease.

Biologic therapies: Medications used to target specific areas within the body.

Living with Crohn’s disease:

Once a diagnosis is determined, the disease will most likely be a lifelong event separated by times of relapses and remissions. Each case varies from severe to medium to mild and symptoms may come and go at different intervals. Symptoms may be ongoing and constant while others may experience breaks in discomfort for months or years before a relapse is noticed.

Stress and/or Special Diets:

It has not been determined that the avoidance of stress or the consumption of a special diet causes a worsening or improvement in the symptoms of Crohn’s disease. A recommendation by physicians is to avoid foods that cause discomfort or worsening of pain symptoms. Avoidance of certain foods may cause a loss of much needed nutrition. As such, your physician may recommend dietary supplements.

Recommendation on Management it Successfully

You can manage it through diet, nutritional supplements and special therapies. Below are several recommendations:

Diet:
1. Eat a healthy whole food diet with lots veggies but watch the bran
2. No milk( very small amounts of cheese and yogurt)
3. No fast food, processed foods and sugary foods. A trip to MacDonald’s can be deadly.
4. Avoid carrageen; this is a common additive to foods known to inflame intestines. It is commonly added to dairy, soymilk, lunchmeats and products advertised as “light”.
5. Baked fish (with rice) is very well tolerated meal.
6. Lastly always be on the watch for food allergies: Potatoes are a big no no and tomatoes to a lesser degree! Sweet potatoes are the opposite and are very good.
7. Aloe concentrate pills: Tried them and they did not help at all, however, maybe you can try it to be successful.

Nutritional Supplements:

1. Number one fish oil! Take super halibut liver oil, four pills a day (2 morning, 2 dinner) which more than they say you should take but this is my number one secret. I tolerate the halibut much better than straight fish oil, which gives me cramps.
2. Eat soluble fiber, Metamucil (avoid aspartame version) or acacia and this promotes regularity and is soothing. Take a tablespoon everyday.
3. Take slippery elm, an herb available at health food stores, when you are inflamed. It is very soothing!
4. A good multivitamin (not Centrum) from a health food store. Remember you get what you pay for and you’re worth it!

Special Therapies:

1. Laser Therapy also known as cold Laser. It definitely helps. If you’re not familiar, this is the use of light (infrared) to promote healing. Laser therapy is safe and well proven in Europe on many ailments.
2. Osteopathy: deep tissue manipulation. These guys work on moving your organs around and breaking down adhesions. Adhesions (a huge problem they don’t tell you about) are growths that occur after surgery that create attachments to your intestines and organs, which impede their movement.
3. Infrared Sauna

Conclusion:

Comprehensive information about Crohn’s disease (Crones disease), as well as another IBD called Ulcerative Colitis, can be found on the official web page of Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (www.ccfa.org). It is a non-profit, volunteer-driven organization that is dedicated to finding the cure for IBD. Staying informed, as well as finding a support system, is detrimental to maintaining high quality of life while living with Crohn’s. This disease is not considered a fatal illness, and most people with Crohn’s continue to live long and productive lives.