Crohn's Disease Causes & Risk Factors

Published: February 5, 2012

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How to Prevent Against This

Even though there is no cure for Crohn's disease, a variety of treatments are available to treat symptoms, control flare-ups, and prolong periods of remission. Doctors will use a combination of medication, lifestyle changes, diet plans, and surgical procedures to keep symptoms under control so that patients are able to live a healthy and normal life.

For the most part, it is impossible to prevent Crohn's disease which has an autoimmune and genetic link. However, it is possible to prevent flare-ups and control symptoms by adjusting your dietary and nutritional intake.

If you have Crohn's, you may have noticed whether certain foods or behaviors will trigger your symptoms. Avoiding these foods and adjusting your habits may be helpful strategies for prolonging periods of remission.

Diet Tips

Even though there is no such thing as a "Crohn's diet," you may need to make adjustments to your eating habits in order to keep your condition under control. You need to make sure that you consume an ideal amount of calories, minerals, vitamins, and proteins since Crohn's disease puts people at risk for severe weight loss and malnutrition.

First, it is important that you moderate your fluid intake. Drink lots of water in small amounts over the course of the day in order to prevent problems related to dehydration. Avoid all consumption of alcohol and caffeine. If you have trouble digesting lactose, then you should refrain from consuming milk and other dairy products.

Instead of eating large meals, it is advisable to consume smaller meals throughout the day. These meals should be low-fiber, and they should have a relatively low fat content. Sauces and fried foods tend to be high in fat and unhealthy for Crohn's patients. If you have a bowel obstruction or other intestinal blockage, you may need to eliminate uncooked fruits and vegetables from your diet.

Talk to your doctor about whether you should be taking additional nutritional supplements. Some doctors may advise you to take iron, calcium, vitamin D, or vitamin B-12. Make sure that you talk to a doctor before taking supplements, since these medications can interfere with your digestive tract. Only a doctor can determine what dose and what vitamins are best for you.

Treatment & Relief Methods

Medications and treatment methods are designed to extend periods of remission for as long as possible. Commonly prescribed medicines include antibiotics, steroids, and anti-inflammatory drugs.

For the most part, medications treat acute outbreaks and infections. Doctors recommend against using medications for an extended period of time since side effects might occur. These side effects include muscular degeneration and a suppressed immune system.

For many medications, the active ingredient is a 5-ASA compound. These drugs are administered in large doses to treat flare-ups and low doses to maintain periods of remission. Steroids are drugs that reduce swelling and suppress the immune system. Steroids have a number of negative side effects including swelling in the face, acne, insomnia, shaking, mood swings, increased appetite, and weight gain. Immunoregulatory drugs are frequently prescribed with steroids. These drugs help prolong remission periods. Antibiotics help prevent flare-ups that result from a bacterial infection in the digestive tract.

An opiate receptor antagonist drug has shown success in initiating periods of remission. These drugs are uncommon on the market and are undergoing clinical trials.

It is recommended that patients try to maintain healthy sleeping patterns. Getting enough sleep can keep patients healthy, strong, and energetic. Avoid smoking as much as possible. Exercise can help patients overcome fatigue.

Common Surgeries

Surgery is necessary when a blockage occurs in the intestine. Surgery is also necessary for treating bowel obstructions, fistulas, and abscesses. In extreme situations, an intestinal transplant is necessary. Surgery carries a high risk since infections can recur at the surgical site. Many patients will have to undergo multiple surgeries. For the most part, doctors try to avoid surgery. No surgery can cure the condition or prolong periods of remission.

A bowel resection is a type of surgery that involves the removal of part of the intestine. The purpose of this procedure is to drain abscesses and correct other abnormalities. Once this procedure is complete, the surgeon will connect the ends of the bowel.

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