HOW TO GET LESS GROANS FROM CROHN"S DISEASE
A NASTY DISEASE.
As readers of my Hubs will know I am a Celliac ! Accounts of my condition and the problems I have encountered from it from infancy, are well catalogued in earlier Hubs. I mention it here because on the point of diagnosis in 1985, my Consultant told me before he sent a camera down my throat, that he was certain I had one of just two conditions that were causing my severe problems at that time. He hoped ,for my sake, it was one and not the other !
Next day, he greeted me with the news that his diagnosis had been correct and that, thankfully for me, I was a Celliac sufferer and not a Crohn"s ! As it was the first I had heard of either, I listened intently to his explanation. Both conditions are chronic conditions affecting the digestive system. The inflammation caused to the lining of both the intestines cause food digestion to be severly disrupted. Of the two, Crohn"s is the most severe and can effectively reduce the quality of life of the sufferes to an intense level.
Both conditions, which may arise from a variety of reasons including faults in the immune system, gene disorders and previous infections, are still yet to be fully understood. Symptoms however, are easily noted. They include severe weight loss, diarrhoea, loss of energy and build up of fatigue, accompanied, especially in Crohn"s by severe pains in the affected areas. In the longer term, Crohn"s sufferers can develop narrowing of the colon and other complications within the digestive system.
I recall asking my Consultant what surgery would be required to fix my Celliac"s. To my surprise, he told me there would be none necessary, as attention to my diet would be the key and that a visit to the Nutitionist would reveal all , as indeed it did. Chron"s sufferers also, whilst not being able to be cured , can also help themselves to control symptoms by adjusting their diets. However, in Crohn"s cases most will also need surgery to repair severly damaged parts of their digestive systems. Some have to have portions of the stomach removed if the condition has advanced beyond reasonable chances of self repair. Some may also need drug treatments which can have unpleasant side effects. Thus, the severity of Crohn"s compared to the still debilitating Celliac"s is clear to see.
ADJUSTING THE DIETS.
The nutitionist, explaining how I could alleviate my Celliac symptoms basically told me that, for the duration, I was to eschew all wheat and wheat based products. That seems simple, but once you begin to analyse the foods and food products that contain wheat, it really hits home that your diet has to change forever and quite drastically. A simple example is that most Chinese and Indian foods are off limits as the sauces contain wheat. Now, in 2013 there is a greater awareness of gluten free foods at the supermarket, though still not enough of them and those there are are at a premium price in every case. Still something is better than nothing I suppose.
Crohn"s sufferers have also found that diet adjustment is key to controlling symptoms. One sufferer found that by bypassing the so called "healthy" foods like fruits, vegetables and other fibrous foods that aggravated his condition and settling on things like chicken, mashed potato and pasta, he had a better quality of life. Now pasta is off limits to me, so differences clearly obtain. Gluten free spaghetti is my only "pasta" food , though rice noodles can take the place of egg and wheat based noodles. Like myself, the Crohn"s sufferer in question also has to have Vitamin B12 injections as we cannot absorb the vitamin naturally. I have an injection every 3 months these days. Unlike me with Celiac"s, the Crohn"s sufferer still experiences stomach pain and throbbing but has learned to live with it.
Thus, it certainly seems to me that though there are distinct similarities between Crohn"s and Celliac"s, the former is by far the harder condition to live with. Even so, by carefull consideration to diet and with some self experimentation, the Crohn"s sufferer can now enjoy a substantially normal life, as indeed do those of us with Celliac"s. My main thrust in writing this Hub, whilst drawing comparisons and distinctions between the two conditions is to draw attention to Crohn"s sufferers and those who live and care for them of the way in which great attention to diet can assist the suffere greatly. My wife has the eyes of an eagle whenever I pick up a food product, rapidly seeking out the ingredients and allergy advice on the rear to check it is something I can eat without repercussions. Now, the information on products is so much better than it used to be and is a great help to us all, regardless of whatever condition we may have.
Certainly, things have moved on well since my diagnosis back in 1985 but the fact remains that we are still only able to deal with symptoms not causes. I have no doubt that Medical Research will ultimately make the advances still required to help especially those suffering with Crohn"s Disease. If , as it certainly is, Crohn"s is worse than Celliac"s ,then my sympathy to sufferers is total as I have found Celliac"s almost impossible to live with in times past and give thanks daily to be now in control of my own condition. Like the Crohn"s sufferer referred to above, there is now clear evidence that similar can obtain for Crohn"s sufferers who take close care and control of their own diets.