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Crohn's Disease - A Life Lost

Updated on February 3, 2017
Pamela99 profile image

I have been writing about medical issues and all the new medical advances since spending 22 years in the nursing profession.

Procedure for Diagnosis

Medicine.net
Medicine.net

Loss of a Friend

Crohn’s Disease is an inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract, which was initially diagnosed in 1932. A few days ago I went to the funeral of one of my friends who suffered from this disease for many years and died at the age of 69. She apparently developed a blockage, had severe stomach pain, then had a heart attack. She was one of the happiest people I ever knew. Her husband and family supported her completely. Attitude has so much to do with the quality of our lives, and she certainly was a prime example.

Life expectancy in the United States for women today is 86.6 years, but worldwide life expectancy is 73.5 years. My friend had nine grandchildren and was very active in the community, so this death at 69 was unexpected, despite her chronic illness.

One day she told me that the reason she loved her husband so much was that he made her laugh every day. Again, a chronic illness does not have to ruin you or your family’s life.

Cohen's Disease Compared to Ulcerative Colitis

Source

Crohn's Disease VS Ulcerative Colitis

Crohn’s disease is not the only inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBD). IBD includes ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease.

The symptoms of these two diseases are similar, but they affect different parts of the intestine. Crohn’s usually affects the end of the small bowel and the beginning of the colon, but it may affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract from the mouth to the anus. Ulcerative colitis is limited to the large intestine of the colon. These diseases actually cause inflammation to the lining of the digestive tract.

Crohn’s disease may also affect the thickness of the bowel wall, and it can skip over some areas of the colon leaving it normal, and attack an area further away. This is not true of ulcerative colitis. There is no cure for Crohn’s disease, although there are therapies that can greatly reduce the signs and symptoms and even bring about a long-term remission. However, this disease can also lead to life-threatening complications.

Symptoms

Symptoms may vary between patients, ranging from mild to severe, but the most common signs and symptoms include:

  • Persistent diarrhea
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Urgent need to move bowels
  • Sensation of incomplete evacuation
  • Constipation, which can lead to a bowel obstruction

There are also some general symptoms associated with IBS diseases, which include:

  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Night sweats
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of normal menstrual cycle

Some people who have severe Crohn’s disease also experience inflammation of their skin, eyes, joints, liver or bile ducts, and it can delay growth or sexual development in children.

Risk Factors or Causes

It is important to see your doctor if your symptoms change, such as abdominal pain, blood in your stool, ongoing bouts of diarrhea that do not respond to OTC medications, unexplained fever that lasts more than a day or two or unexplained weight loss.

The exact cause of Crohn’s disease is not known, although factors like heredity or a malfunctioning immune system can play a role in its development. While this disease can occur at any age it is most commonly diagnosed before age 30. It can affect any ethnic group, but people of Jewish dissent have a higher risk.

Smoking cigarettes is a risk factor that you can control, so if you have a family history it would be wise to never again smoke. Anti-inflammatory medications don't cause the disease, but they can lead to greater inflammation of the bowel, which makes the symptoms of Crohn’s disease worse.

There is a higher incidence of this disease in urban areas in industrial countries, which suggest diets high in fat only find foods may here respecter. Individuals who live in northern climates are also at a greater risk.


Lower Digestion Track

Web MD
Web MD

Possible Complications

The numerous complications can be quite serious and include:

  1. Inflammation that is confined to the bowel wall can lead to scarring and narrowing, or it may spread through the bowel wall causing a fistula.
  2. As Crohn’s disease affects the thickness of the intestinal wall the bowel may sicken and narrow at different points which block the flow of digestive contents, and surgery is the only option.
  3. Open sore ulcers may occur anywhere in the digestive tract including your mouth and anus or your intestines and another organ. In this case may bypass areas of the bile that are necessary for absorption or fistulas may occur.
  4. It is possible that a fistula can extend completely through the intestinal wall and even occur between your intestine and your scan or between loops of bile into the bladder or vagina coming out to the scan causing continuous drainage. This is obviously a very serious complication and requires surgery.
  5. Anal fissures, which are a small tear in the tissue that lines the anus, can cause infections and are often associated with painful bowel movements.
  6. Malnutrition may occur due to the diarrhea, abdominal pain, cramping that makes it difficult for a person to eat. The intestine may not absorb enough nutrients to keep the body nourished. Anemia is also common due to the low absorption of iron or vitamin B12.
  7. This disease also increases your risk of colon cancer. Colonoscopies should begin before the age of 50.
  8. Anemia, osteoporosis and gallbladder or liver disease are also possible problems.

Some of the medications commonly given to these patients may also cause problems, such as they are corticosteroids and anti-inflammatories.

Diagnosing Crohn's Disease

Generally doctors will attempt to rule out other possibilities from your symptoms before diagnosing Crohn’s disease. There is no specific test for this disease. Doctors use a combination of endoscopy with biopsies and radiological testing to help confirm the disease. Blood test will be checked for anemia and fecal occult blood test will be taken also.

Colonoscopies, flexible sigmoidoscopies and computerized tomography (CT scan) or a MRI are commonly used for diagnosis. The CT or MRI scan are useful to look at the entire colon for fistulas around the anal area. Capsule endoscopy is another test that uses a camera swallowed by the patient to take pictures, which are then transmitted to a computer you wear on your belt.

The main goal for treatment is to reduce the inflammation and improve the long-term prognosis, so complications can be limited. This same goal holds true for those with ulcerative colitis. Anti-inflammatory drugs are usually the first type of treatment tried, and corticosteroids, such as prednisone, help reduce inflammation anywhere in the body but they don't always work for people with Crohn’s disease.

They are not for long term use, but they are used to try to induce remission. There are some other types of immune suppressant medications that are sometimes called for if the symptoms are not responding to other medications.

Managing Stress

http://www.medicinenet.com/crohns_disease_pictures_slideshow/article.htm
http://www.medicinenet.com/crohns_disease_pictures_slideshow/article.htm

Healthy Recipes

Healing Foods: Cooking for Celiacs, Colitis, Crohn's and IBS
Healing Foods: Cooking for Celiacs, Colitis, Crohn's and IBS

"The Specific Carbohydrate Diet is a strict grain-free, lactose-free, and sucrose-free dietary regimen intended for those suffering from Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, celiac disease, diverticulitis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

 

Ways to Help Yourself

Paying attention to your nutrition is important, and doctors recommend a low residue or low fiber diet to help reduce the risk of acquiring an intestinal blockage. Avoid dairy products as they can cause inflammation and try low-fat foods.

Eating four or five small meals each day instead of a large meal seems to help prevent problems, and it is a good idea to drink plenty of fluids daily, preferably water.

Approximately one half of the people with this disease require will require at least one surgery to remove portions of the digestive tract. Stress seems to make any disease worse, and it may trigger flareups. Mild exercise, biofeedback, using regular relaxation and breathing techniques may also help reduce your stress. Many people practice yoga. Probiotics may help, although medical testing has had mixed results.

Try to make a plan that works for you and gives you optimal health despite your disease.

© 2015 Pamela Oglesby

Comments

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  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

    I'm sorry for your loss, Pamela.

    I had never heard of this disease until five years ago. I had a student in middle school who had it. Obviously I then learned more about it. Thank you for raising awareness about this disease.

  • suzettenaples profile image

    Suzette Walker 2 years ago from Taos, NM

    Very interesting article. I have always wondered the difference between ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease as they are similar. You explained this well.

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

    Marcy Goodfleisch 2 years ago from Planet Earth

    I'm so sorry for the loss of your friend! This is indeed a serious disease, and one that few people know much about. I've had friends affected by it (so far, they're managing it), but as you said, it needs to be monitored carefully.

    This is a very informative hub - thanks for helping to raise awareness. It's also a very caring way for you to honor your friend, by helping others through educating people about her disease.

  • Tom Whitworth profile image

    Tom Whitworth 2 years ago from Moundsville, WV

    Good information as usual Pamela.

    Sorry for the loss of your friend.

  • pstraubie48 profile image

    Patricia Scott 2 years ago from sunny Florida

    At this time doctors are working furiously to determine if my baby grandson has this disease. He has the symptoms and then some. We are hoping for a resolution soon.

    My best friend of years gone by was married to a young man who suffered with Crohns as well...he had a relatively normal life most of the time and then he had flare ups and boy, were they flare ups.

    thanks for casting a light on this disease in such depth, Pamela.

    Hoping all is well with you and yours.

    Angels are on the way to you this evening ps

  • Nell Rose profile image

    Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

    Hi Pamela, I am so sorry to hear about your loss, it is such a horrible disease, and this will really help others who need to know and maybe know someone who is suffering from it, voted up and shared, nell

  • bravewarrior profile image

    Shauna L Bowling 2 years ago from Central Florida

    Pamela, I'm so sorry for the loss of your friend. My heart goes out to the family.

    Thank you for this informative article.

  • Pamela99 profile image
    Author

    Pamela Oglesby 2 years ago from United States

    Billy, Thanks for your comments. This is really a tough disease for many people, so I thought it would be a good topic to raise awareness as you stated.

  • Pamela99 profile image
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    Pamela Oglesby 2 years ago from United States

    Suzette, I am glad that I explained it well enough for everyone to understand. I appreciate your comments.

  • Pamela99 profile image
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    Pamela Oglesby 2 years ago from United States

    Marcy, I know one man that has this disease. He is very thin, but watches what he eats carefully. It can be much worse for some people than others. Thank you so much for your very kind comments.

  • Pamela99 profile image
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    Pamela Oglesby 2 years ago from United States

    Tom, Thanks so much for your comments. Hope you are doing well.

  • Pamela99 profile image
    Author

    Pamela Oglesby 2 years ago from United States

    Patricia, I will pray for your grandson and hope he doesn't have this disease. It is really tough on children I think because it alters their lives so much. The flare-ups for those that have this disease are very difficult. Thank you for your comments and the angels.

  • Pamela99 profile image
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    Pamela Oglesby 2 years ago from United States

    Nell, I hope this does help others that have the disease or maybe just a friend that has the disease. I want people to understand how difficult this disease can be for some people. I appreciate the comments and the share.

  • Pamela99 profile image
    Author

    Pamela Oglesby 2 years ago from United States

    Shauna, She had a large number of family members at the funeral and my heart broke for them. Thanks so much for your comments.

  • RTalloni profile image

    RTalloni 2 years ago from the short journey

    The loss of your friend for you and her family is so difficult, but writing this introduction to the disease (and perhaps more posts as more is learned about the disease) is a useful way to remember her and encourage others to take care of their health. Thank your for sharing her experience in the context of a guide to Crohn's.

  • breakfastpop profile image

    breakfastpop 2 years ago

    Your hub is interesting and very informative. I know people who suffer from Crohn's and Colitis and they make the best of a not so great situation. I am so sorry to her about your friend.

  • Pamela99 profile image
    Author

    Pamela Oglesby 2 years ago from United States

    RTalloni, It is difficult, and I know how sick she was at times, yet she seemed to be able to keep this wonderful attitude. I appreciate your comments.

  • Pamela99 profile image
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    Pamela Oglesby 2 years ago from United States

    BPOP, It is a very tough disease for most people. I appreciate your comments.

  • anglnwu profile image

    anglnwu 2 years ago

    Great information. One of my friends has Crohn's disease and she's managing well with medication and watching her diet. Thanks for sharing.

  • MsDora profile image

    Dora Isaac Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

    Very good information and helpful tips on this disease. Sorry about the loss of your friend; please find comfort in the memory of the good times you shared.

  • AliciaC profile image

    Linda Crampton 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

    I'm sorry for the loss of your friend, Pamela. Thanks for sharing the information about this horrible disease.

  • Pamela99 profile image
    Author

    Pamela Oglesby 2 years ago from United States

    Anginwu, It is ideal when a person can manage with diet and medicatons, but some people end up on very strong medications. Thank you for your comments.

  • Pamela99 profile image
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    Pamela Oglesby 2 years ago from United States

    MsDora, Thank you so much for your comments.

  • Pamela99 profile image
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    Pamela Oglesby 2 years ago from United States

    Alicia, Thank you so much for your comments. I sure agree that this is a horrible disease.

  • MartieCoetser profile image

    Martie Coetser 2 years ago from South Africa

    Thanks for this well-explained information about Crohns disease, Pamela. This looks like a very uncomfortable and painful disease. So sad that they haven't yet discovered a cure.

  • Jackie Lynnley profile image

    Jackie Lynnley 2 years ago from The Beautiful South

    Thank you Pamela for sharing your lose and the important information it brought to us. May your happy thoughts of your friend outweigh your sorrow.

  • Pamela99 profile image
    Author

    Pamela Oglesby 2 years ago from United States

    Martie, After all this time you would think there would be a cure, but it is like so many auto=immune diseases where there is only a treatment. Thanks for your comments.

  • Pamela99 profile image
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    Pamela Oglesby 2 years ago from United States

    Jackie, That is a very nice way of looking at loss. I appreciate your comments.

  • PegCole17 profile image

    Peg Cole 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas

    Your description of this disease was valuable and interesting. I'm glad I read this today as I've been a bit worried about this disease. Doesn't look like my symptoms match the description for Crohn's.

    I'm so sorry to hear about your friend. That age is really sounding younger all the time. My deepest condolences on your loss.

  • always exploring profile image

    Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

    I am sorry for your loss of a friend. I know one person with Crohns Diease. Your hub is really informative and well written. Thank you for sharing..Tweeted

  • Pamela99 profile image
    Author

    Pamela Oglesby 2 years ago from United States

    PegCole, That sounds like good news, t I hope you find out what is causing your proles. You might consider Gluten disease. Best of luck, and thank you for your comments.

  • Pamela99 profile image
    Author

    Pamela Oglesby 2 years ago from United States

    I appreciate your comments so much and your tweet.

  • pstraubie48 profile image

    Patricia Scott 2 years ago from sunny Florida

    So sad for your loss, Pamela. No words ever really seem to help but know you are thought of.

    Crohn's is horrific. My best friend's husband has it and he suffers horribly with it.

    My baby grandson is being analyzed to determine if he has it...it presents in different ways in little ones.

    We are hopeful that they can find out what is causing his pain ....and other effects of whatever it is.

    Angels are on the way to you this morning ps

  • Pamela99 profile image
    Author

    Pamela Oglesby 2 years ago from United States

    Patricia, I hope your grandson won't have the disease.I will add him to my prayer list. Love the angels, and I will send some back to you.

  • lctodd1947 profile image

    lctodd1947 2 years ago from USA

    Hey Pamela, I haven't been here in awhile but wanted to tell you as always your hub is outstanding. You know your stuff. Look forward to meeting here and there again.

    Linda

  • Pamela99 profile image
    Author

    Pamela Oglesby 2 years ago from United States

    Ictodd, I haven't been here as often as I should due to some health problems., but I am glad to ear from you.

  • Sunshine625 profile image

    Linda Bilyeu 23 months ago from Orlando, FL

    My nephew was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease at a young age. He is now in his 30's and has been through so much due to his condition, yet he is a very brave man. I am so sorry for the loss of your friend, her journey had you teaching others about this condition. Thank you for teaching us. Thank you for your prayers and thoughts for many years to Team Cap. You are a wonderful woman and I am thankful for your friendship.

  • Pamela99 profile image
    Author

    Pamela Oglesby 23 months ago from United States

    Sunshine, This is really a tough disease, and I pray the medical science will learn to do more for people with this disease. I appreciate your comments so much, and I am thankful for our friendship also.

  • AudreyHowitt profile image

    Audrey Howitt 22 months ago from California

    This sounds like a really difficult condition to live with. I never knew about its severity before

  • Pamela99 profile image
    Author

    Pamela Oglesby 22 months ago from United States

    This disease does make people miserable. Thanks for your comments.

  • Rabadi profile image

    21 months ago from New York

    Incredible and valuable information. A great read!

  • Pamela99 profile image
    Author

    Pamela Oglesby 21 months ago from United States

    Rabadi, Thank you so much for your comments. am glad you found this hub useful.

  • profile image

    Amity Bronwen 6 months ago

    So sorry for your loss: I also lost a friend due to complications from Crohn's. She was an unusual case, at only 26. But this was years ago: I'm 53 & she'd be 50 now!

    I have both Crohn's and UC, and in the interest of saving others with these forms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) from having their symptoms minimized and condition confused with the less dangerous Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), I need to point out that you've accidentally merged the two names. There is no Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome.

    I'm not being nitpicking: the distinction is very important. By applying the abbreviation IBS instead of IBD to our condition when in need of medical care, those of us with IBD risk getting far less necessary medical help when emergencies arise.

    I hope that it might be possible for you to review and correct your otherwise beautiful article? Thank you.

    My Maternal Grandmother passed due to similar circumstances to your friend, at about the same age.

    I haven't been as cautious as I really should be. Sick abed with a Flare, I'm thinking how better to manage both forms of IBD that I have.

  • Pamela99 profile image
    Author

    Pamela Oglesby 5 months ago from United States

    I am sorry that you are so ill, and you have suffered the loss of a loved one. I wrote that article quite a while ago, and I will certainly review and correct any mistakes. There may be something new I can add as well. Thank you very much for your input. I wish you the best.

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