Living With Crohn’s Disease

Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), such as Crohn’s disease, impact at least 1.6 million Americans. Without treatment, Crohn’s disease can significantly impact your quality of life and cause physical complications, such as:

Because Crohn’s disease affects your small intestine, it can also interfere with its ability to properly absorb nutrients, which can lead to malnutrition.

As an expert in family medicine and anorectal disorders at Midwest Hemorrhoid Treatment Center, Betsy F. Clemens, MD, brings more than 20 years of experience to the Creve Coeur community in Missouri. If you have Crohn’s disease, she can help you find the right therapies to manage your condition and avoid painful anorectal complications.

Crohn’s disease and IBD

An inflammatory bowel disease causes chronic inflammation and damage to your gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Your GI tract starts in your mouth and continues down your esophagus into your liver, stomach, and intestines, before ending at your rectum and anus. Your GI tract works to digest your food, absorb nutrients, and eliminate waste from your body.

When you have Crohn’s disease, you can have inflammation anywhere in your GI tract, but it’s most common at the end of your small intestine where it connects to your colon. Crohn’s disease can also affect certain areas of your gastrointestinal tract and leave others untouched. It can also cause such extensive inflammation that it can penetrate through the wall of your bowel.

The symptoms of Crohn’s disease can range in severity. Furthermore, they can start suddenly or disappear for extended periods. Symptoms can include:

When you have Crohn’s disease, it’s also common to develop skin tags, or small flaps of excess skin, especially near your anus or any existing hemorrhoids. These growths can increase your chances of skin irritation in the area, because they can easily collect waste.

Managing Crohn’s disease

If you have Crohn’s disease, it’s important to control inflammation in your GI tract to manage your symptoms and flare-ups. Dr. Clemens takes a holistic approach to health care and understands how integrating medical treatment and lifestyle choices can work together to support your anorectal health.

Medications

To manage Crohn’s disease, Dr. Clemens often recommends starting with anti-inflammatory or immune system suppressor medications that work to reduce irritation within your system. Additional drugs used to treat Crohn’s disease can include anti-diarrheals, pain relievers, and antibiotics.

Dr. Clemens might also recommend taking nutritional supplements, such as iron, calcium, vitamin D, or vitamin B12 to correct any vitamin deficiencies from malnutrition.

Diet

Changing your diet may not only help control your symptoms, but it can also help reduce flare-ups. To help identify foods that may aggravate your condition, you can keep a food diary.

Common foods that can make Crohn’s symptoms worse include:

You might also find relief from eating five or six small meals each day instead of two or three larger ones.

Stress management

While stress doesn’t cause Crohn’s disease, it can trigger flare-ups and make your symptoms worse. Since completely avoiding stress isn’t realistic, regularly engaging in stress management techniques can help you better manage your response to it. Common stress management techniques include mild to vigorous exercise, breathing exercises, and meditation.

For more information on living with Crohn’s disease, call us at Midwest Hemorrhoid Treatment Center today.

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