If you’ve recently been given a Crohn’s disease diagnosis, you may not know quite what to expect. Learning that you have a chronic illness can be difficult, but understanding the diagnosis and the best practices for treatment is extremely helpful.
We’re going to do an overview of Crohn’s disease in this article, giving you some insight into how the illness works. We’ll also break down a few of the symptoms and how different practices can help ease your discomfort.
Let’s get started.
What to Expect from Your Crohn’s Disease Diagnosis
Crohn’s is an inflammatory bowel disease. It’s important to note that Crohn’s disease is common, and more than 3 million people have received a diagnosis.
It occurs most often in a person’s colon and small intestine, but can potentially cause issues to all parts of your gastrointestinal tract. If you’ve been diagnosed, you’re sure to have noticed symptoms in one or more components of your digestive system.
Because the issue is primarily inflammation, the pain you experience will depend on how inflamed your system is. This means that your symptoms could range from very light to excruciating.
Many people who receive a Crohn’s disease diagnosis have a family member with the same illness, suggesting that it can run through a person’s genes. You may also develop the disease through various factors in your environment, or if your immune system is malfunctioning.
Symptoms to Expect
It’s important to have realistic expectations about the symptoms you might experience. As we’ll discuss, the treatment method you choose will depend in large part on the severity of your pain.
That said, symptoms can develop and change over time. So, just because you have a specific set of symptoms now doesn’t mean that they won’t change in the future. They could get better, or they could get worse.
The various symptoms you can expect in the early stages of Crohn’s disease might include diarrhea, stomach cramps, bloody stool, increased regularity of stool, reduced appetite, fatigue, and loss of weight. If you’ve been diagnosed and those are your only symptoms, you can rest easy knowing that adequate treatment is likely to prevent your symptoms from progressing.
Symptoms could naturally progress, though. Here’s a look at some of the more advanced symptoms.
If your disease has progressed or your treatment isn’t working, you could experience a few more painful symptoms. The first is a perianal fistula. This is essentially an abscess that develops in a cavity of the anus.
It becomes filled with pus and leads to sharp pain, discharge, and breaks open the skin if it doesn’t heal correctly. Some instances may call for surgery if the problem continues and recurs.
You could also develop ulcers anywhere on your gastrointestinal tract. Additionally, you could develop inflammation in your joints or anywhere on your skin.
Finally, you might experience anemia from the iron deficiency caused by the loss of blood from your ulcers. Anemia leads to a low red blood cell count which constricts your body’s ability to distribute oxygen.
Anemia happens to be one of the more common symptoms of Crohn’s and causes fatigue, headaches, dizziness, and more.
What to Expect from Treatment
Unfortunately, there is no cure for Crohn’s disease at this time. That said, there are a number of well-known ways that you can treat the illness and manage your pain.
Treatment can lessen the frequency of your symptoms and make them milder when they do come up. Following are some of the most common treatment options.
You might start your treatment with a set of anti-inflammatory medications. These can help to reduce the pain relatively quickly.
Most likely, you’ll be prescribed corticosteroids, 5-aminosalicylates, or both. Your doctor will determine the volume and frequency of your medications depending on the severity of your symptoms.
Antibiotics are used to fight off bacteria that could be adding to the inflammation you’re experiencing. They can also heal any fistulas you may experience.
A fistula is a hole or opening in your digestive tract that allows fluids to drain out. These are very painful and can contribute to further inflammation.
A Controlled Diet
Food isn’t known to be the cause of Crohn’s disease, but there are definitely factors of a person’s diet that can make symptoms better or worse.
Your doctor will probably recommend that you go and see a dietician to discuss your eating habits. This person will be able to analyze what you eat and point out some potential foods that are contributing to your pain.
Additionally, they can create a suggested diet plan that will work to improve the existing state of your gastrointestinal tract as well as defend against further inflammation and discomfort.
Unlike most illnesses, there isn’t a specific diet that works for all cases. It’s not as if adding fiber to your diet would fix things for everyone, for example. That’s why it’s so important to closely monitor your food intake and how you feel after you eat specific foods.
If you notice patterns of increased pain, you should note the foods that you ate before the symptoms happened. It may seem trivial, but diet directly affects the symptoms of Crohn’s disease.
Things to Watch Out for
The help of a dietician is going to be extremely important before you get things figured out. That said, there are some trends that help people improve symptoms.
The first thing is to monitor how much fiber you’re taking in. When you have Crohn’s disease, a high-fiber diet could be a big problem for you.
Additionally, consider cutting down on how much fat you’re consuming. Crohn’s makes it difficult to digest fat and often causes diarrhea. The same goes for dairy products.
Need Help Moving Forward?
If you’re in need of some more guidance concerning your Crohn’s disease diagnosis, we’re here to help.
Whether you’re looking for medications or more insight into the condition itself, explore our site for the information you need.