Crohn’s Disease: Not a ‘One-Size-Fits-All’ Condition
Not exactly sure what Crohn’s disease is or what it’s all about? You’re not alone. It’s difficult to put your finger on this condition because it’s different for each person, from symptoms and complications to triggers and effective treatments. Here’s what you need to know:
Crohn’s disease is a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It causes irritation and inflammation in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. It can occur anywhere along the tract, from the mouth to the anus. And it can affect different points, skipping healthy areas.
People with Crohn’s disease should work with their healthcare provider to help pinpoint the location of their inflammation for better disease management. For example, inflammation in the small intestines can cause different symptoms and complications than inflammation in the colon.
Common symptoms of Crohn’s disease are diarrhea, cramping in the abdomen, and weight loss. But other symptoms like fever, nausea, anemia, fatigue, joint pain, and skin issues are possible. People with Crohn’s disease may also have periods of remission: days or even years when they have no symptoms at all.
Many people find that stress can trigger their Crohn’s disease symptoms or make them worse. The same may be true for smoking. Certain foods can also trigger symptom flare-ups. To identify which foods to pass up, people with Crohn’s disease may benefit from keeping a food journal to track their diet and symptoms.
Although there is no cure for Crohn’s disease, providers can help reduce inflammation in the GI tract with treatment, improving symptoms and overall quality of life. Treatment may include medicine or bowel rest—taking in only liquid or IV nutrition to give the bowel a chance to heal. When these treatments no longer work, surgery may be needed to remove a diseased portion of the GI tract.