Crohn’s disease, a reverse action against intestines

Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease that commonly affects the small and large intestines. It is an auto-immune disease and has no specific causing agent.
Dr Joseph Kamugisha
Dr Joseph Kamugisha

Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease that commonly affects the small and large intestines. It is an auto-immune disease and has no specific causing agent.

An auto-immune disease means that the body’s natural defence that is supposed to fight against infection instead attacks the body’s own tissue and fail to distinguish the tissue from the foreign material in the body.

Autoimmune diseases are in most cases of genetic origin and tend to run in families. There are suggestions that Crohn’s disease could be caused by a virus or bacteria involved with the initial damage to the lining of the gastro-intestinal tract but this information lacks scientific proof as the actual micro-organisms involved are not yet known.

Many people tend to confuse the Crohn’s disease with the colon cancer due to similarity in their clinical presentation. People with Crohn’s disease will normally present with stomach cramps, loss of appetite, weight loss, fever, rectal bleeding and abdominal pains.

All these symptoms are also common in colon cancer however advanced medical investigations should be used to differentiate them.

Once affected by Crohn’s disease, there is need for lifestyle modifications. Feeding is one of the most considered factors here because certain foods can aggravate the Crohn’s disease or complicate the symptoms.

Some foods might not be tolerant in your gastro-intestinal tract. For example many people with inflammatory bowel disease have problems with persistent abdominal pains and gas bloating due to lactose intolerance.

This means the body finds problems to completely digest the lactose sugar found in dairy products and, therefore, doctors will advise you to reduce the amount of dairy products taken or abandon completely depending on the severity of the problem.

Fats are also a problem to some people with an inflammatory bowel disease. Poor fat digestion makes people with crohn’s disease or other chronic inflammatory disease suffers acute episodes of diarrhea. Reducing fat food materials in this case is life saving.

For a normal human being, it is well known that food rich in fiber such as grains, fresh fruits and vegetables helps a lot in gastro-intestinal function but people with inflammatory disease might find it had to take these precious meals as they can worsen abdominal pain, gas bloats and sometimes diarrhea for the patient.

It is, therefore, advisable to eliminate any food substances that complicate your intestinal inflammation. It is therefore advisable to eat five and more small meals daily rather than three big ones.

For people with Crohn’s disease or other inflammatory bowel disease, it is advisable to continually hydrate.  Patient should take in plenty of water or other tolerable fluids daily. Caution should be taken as alcohol and other beverages that contain caffeine stimulate the intestines and can worsen the disease as carbonated fluids frequently produce gas and can make diarrhea worse as well.

In most cases once the intestines are inflamed as in Crohn’s disease, there is interference in absorption of nutrients. This is because a patient receives limited amount of nutrients and irregularly. Therefore, it is advisable to take multivitamin tablets and other body mineral supplements. Check with your doctor before taking any vitamins or supplements.

Many smokers have been operated in their intestines due to this condition. This is because Smoking increases the risk to develop crohn’s disease. It is therefore advisable to avoid smoking to improve overall health of the digestive tract, especially if you have history of Crohn’s disease.

With Crohn’s disease it is advisable to avoid stress and probably can exercise regularly. In stressful events, the stomach empties slowly and secretes more acid. This means it also slows the passage of intestinal contents that might bring changes in intestinal tissue itself.
Dr Joseph Kamugisha is a resident oncologist in Jerusalem, Israel

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