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Chrons Disease Symptoms, Facts and Help

Updated on January 3, 2011

Chrons Disease - For those who can't spell Crohn's Disease!

When first diagnosed with Chrons Disease, the first thing I did was to search for information on Chrons Disease and Chrons Disease symptoms, it was only after quite a bit of frustration that I realised that Chrons Disease is actually spelt Crohn's Disease! It was also then that i realised that it wasn't only myself who was spelling it wrong but like Chrons, there are a lot of people out there just like me and that is why I have set up this Chrons Disease lense and I hope in some small way I can help.

The Definition of Chrons Disease

So what is Chrons Disease?

The official wording is: Chrons disease is a chronic autoimmune disease that can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract but most commonly occurs in the ileum this is the area where the small and large intestine meet.

Phew! there are loads of long words in there and I will try to go through them so as to give a definition of chrons disease that not only doctors can understand!

Chrons Disease Symptoms - Some of the most common symptoms of Chrons Disease

Chrons Disease is often not easy to diagnose, these are some of the most common Crohn's disease symptoms

  • Tenesmus - this means pain when passing a stool
  • Really bad smelling stools (no jokes please!)
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite - no interest in food
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Fatigue - sometimes chronic fatigue
  • Abdominal sounds heard over the intestine like a gurgling or splashing sound
  • Unintentional weight loss - goes with the loss of appetite

What causes Chrons disease?

Why and how do people developed Chrons Disease Symptoms

So what actually causes Chrons disease?

The actual cause of Chrons disease is still unknown,but there are a number of theroies. One theory is that infection by certain bacteria may be the cause of Chrons disease but up to now there has been no solid evidence to prove this.

Chrons disease is not contagious and diet may affect Chrons disease symptoms in people with the disease but it is unlikely that diet is actually responsible for chrons disease.

When the immune system in the intestines becomes activated, seems to be important in IBD. Normally, the immune system cells and proteins defend the body against harmful bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other invaders. When the immune system becomes activated, this causes inflammation within the tissues where this occurs. This is usually an important mechanism of defense used by the immune system and normally only happens when your body is exposed to harmful invaders. In people with IBD, the immune system is abnormally activated even when there is no invader. This causes chronic inflammation and ulceration. The suseptibility to this is inherited and so brothers, sisters, children, and parents of people with IBD are more likely to develop these diseases like Chrons disease.

A recent discovery has shown that a gene called NOD2 has been identified as being associated with Chrons disease. NOD2 is important in determining how the body deals with some bacterial products. People with mutations of NOD2 are more likely to get Crohn's disease.

Chrons Disease Treatments

The Different Treatments available to people who suffer from Chrons

There are a number of different ways to treat Chrons disease, when most people are first diagnosed with chrons, steroids and other medicines are used to reduce inflammation in your gut. These are usually administered as a pill and taken through the mouth, but may be taken as an enema if the lower part of your colon or rectum has the Chrons disease

Steroids used in the treatment of Chrons Disease

If your chrons disease symptoms are severe, you may expect to put onto steroids (corticosteroids) for a few weeks. In about 70% of cases the symptoms will improve within four weeks. And then as you improve the amount of steroids you will be given will be reduced. Because of the long term side effects, steroids are not used as a long term treatment for crohn's disease.

Antibiotics and immunosuppressants

If you do not respond well to steroids or 5-aminosalicylate medicines (see below). You may be put onto antibiotics that will help fight the infection caused by the chrons. Immunosuppressive medicines such as methotrexate, antibody therapy (infliximab), or a combination of these treatments may be used.

5-aminosalicylate medicines & Chrons

Again if you do not respond to the steroids, 5-aminosalicylate medicines can be used mainly only with mild cases of Chrons disease. These include sulfasalazine, mesalazine, of salazine, and balsalazide. These drugs are not always effective and switching back to steroids may be the only option.

Chrons Disease Diet

People who have really bad symptoms of chrons disease, and those that cannot be controlled using medicines, may have to follow a really strict diet especially for chrons. In the majority of cases people who follow the diet closely show significant improvement after a few weeks and then you can slowly return to a normal diet. It is thought that some foods, like dairy products, may start the symptoms of Chrons disease, but the exact reasons are not yet fully understood.

Chrons Disease Surgery

Surgery is only used as the last option with chrons disease patients and the affected part of your gut will be removed.

Chrons Disease in Children

Chrons Disease affects many children, in fact recent statistics show that 20% of all cases of chrons disease are diagnosed in children under the age of 15.

Because children have not fully developed yet, one of the main worries is malnutrition which can lead to stunted growth. Many Children with chrons disease take nutritional supplements to help with this problem.

It is also important to remember that children with chrons disease will also have their own unique problems at this important time of their development. These include the added physical demands placed on their bodies but also the mental aspect where they wont quite fit in with other children of the same age as their normal routine will be different.

So it is important for a child with chrons disease to have a very good support network of friends, family and doctor around them.

I found this blog useful on chrones disease an children with chrones disease

Breastfeeding and Chrons Disease

I recently found an interesting article about the benefits of chrons disease and the benefits it has to both mother and child, what really got me intereste was that it mentioned that breastfeeding your child may lessen the chances of him or her developing chrons disease in the future.

Breastfeeding and Chrons Disease for more info

More than your Body is affected by Chrons Disease

Whilst Chrons is a physical disease, it affects all aspects of the human condition, including your mental state.

It is important to understand that emotion or stress in no way causes chrons disease, however anyone who has gone through weeks of the physical symptoms of Chrons is most likely very stressed and emotional and it is this that can have an added effect on the well-being of the patient.

Different people show varying emotions when faced with the diagnosis of having Chrons disease. Some become very angry while others may even feel relieved to finally have a name for what is wrong with them.

A common side effect of being diagnosed with Chrons disease is Depression. Coping with a chronic illness is not easy and it soon dawns on the patient that every corner of their life will be affected in some way by this disease.

Counselling can help as well as speaking with others who also have Chrons disease especially those with the illness that are coping well.

A real world or on-line support group can be a real help as well as teaching yourself as much as possible about the disease.

Crohn's disease patients usually learn how to prepare and plan for the events in their daily lives and work around the sometimes potentially embarrassing symptoms of the illness. It is important to remember that life does go on and your depression will pass with time with help and support from your friends and family.

Living with Chrons disease is a real challenge but it is also possible to live a full and productive life with the right attitude..

Facts on Chrons Disease

Some of the main points about Chrons disease

  • The exact cause of Chrons disease is still not yet known.
  • Chrons disease is a chronic inflammatory disease of the intestines.
  • Chrons disease usually cause you to have ulcers in your small intestine, colon, or both.
  • If you have Chrons disease in the small intestine it may cause an obstruction of the intestine.
  • The symptoms of Chrons Disease are Abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and weight loss.
  • People with Chrons disease often have reddish, tender skin nodules, and inflammation of their joints, spine, eyes, and liver.
  • Treatment for people with Chrons disease depends on the location and severity of the disease.
  • Chrons disease treatments include drugs for decreasing inflammation or the immune system, antibiotics, and as a last resort surgery.
  • The most common ways to diagnose Chrons disease is by barium enema, barium x–ray of the small bowel, and colonoscopy.

Chrons Disease and Fistulas

What is a Fistula and what can be done to help?

What is a Fistula?

Basically a fistula is an abnormal growth or tunnel that connects two body cavities for example, the rectum and the vagina or a fistula can connect a body cavity to the skin, for example connecting the rectum to the outside of the body.

How are Fistulas Created?

One way a fistula may form is from an abscess which is a pocket of pus. This abscess may be constantly fill with body fluids like stools or urine. This then stops the body from healing and ultimatly the fistula breaks through to another body cavity, an organ or to the skin.

Chrons Disease and Fistulas

Statistically more fistulas are found in people who have Chrons disease than with people who have ulcerative colitis and about one in 4 patients who have Chrons disease eventually also get fistulas.

What types of Fistulas are there

Most fistulas seem to occur near the anus and the genital area and there are four types of fistulas:

1) Enteroenteric or Enterocolic Fistulas: This type of fistula involves the large or small intestine.

2) Enterocutaneous Fistulas: Are fistulas that go from the intestine to the skin. It is important to note that an enterocutaneous fistula may cause complications in surgery.

3) Enterovaginal Fistulas: go to the vagina.

4) Enterovesicular Fistulas: go to the bladder and often result in urinary tract infections or the passage of gas from the urethra during urination.

What are the symptoms of a Fistula?

The symptoms of fistulas can depend on what type of fistula you have, but generally they often include pain, fever, tenderness and itching.

Fistulas may also drain pus or a foul-smelling discharge and may depend on the severity and location of the fistula.

If you have chrons disease or any other form of IBD and you have cause to feel that you may have a fistula, as always it is best to seek out professional medical advice - go see your doctor!

Folic Acid & Chrons Disease in Children

A link between Folic Acid and Chrons Disease as well as another form of IBD, Ulcerative Colitis in Children has been found.

Children with either form of IBD have been shown to have low levels of Folic Acid in their blood. So what does this mean?

Folic acid is vital for the proper functioning of the brain and plays an crucial part in a persons mental and emotional health. It helps with the production of DNA and RNA, the body's genetic material, and is especially important when cells and tissues are growing rapidly, like infancy, adolescence, and pregnancy. Folic acid also works closely with vitamin B12 to regulate the formation of red blood cells and to help iron function properly in the body.

What is Folic Acid?

Vitamin B9, also called folate or folic acid, is one of 8 B vitamins. Folic acid is the synthetic form of B9, found in supplements and fortified foods, while folate occurs naturally in foods. All B vitamins help the body to convert food (carbohydrates) into fuel (glucose), which is "burned" to produce energy. These B vitamins are often called B complex vitamins, also help your body to metabolize fats and protein. B complex vitamins are necessary for healthy skin, hair, eyes, and liver. They also help the nervous system function properly.

The researchers from the University of California in San Francisco believe that IBD in children may be different from the IBD that affects adults. They made this discovery when they measured the folate levels in the blood of 78 children and what they discovered was that nearly half of whom had recently been diagnosed with IBD while the remainder were healthy controls. Folate levels were nearly 20 per cent higher in the IBD group, the researchers found, even though the controls were ingesting around 18 per cent more folate from their diet.

Which Foods contain Folic Acid

Folate is found in many leafy vegetables, for example spinach, turnip greens, lettuces, dried beans and peas, fortified cereal products, sunflower seeds and certain other fruits and vegetables are rich sources of folate. Liver and liver products also contain high amounts of folate, as does baker's yeast. Some breakfast cereals (ready-to-eat and others) are fortified with 25% to 100% of the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for folic acid.

Chrons Disease Books - Books that I have found very helpful on Chrons Disease

Knowledge is power, and this is especially true when first diagnosed with Chrons disease. Some of these books really helped to know important things like what to eat with Chrons and what symptoms to expect from the disease.

Chrons Disease Treatment Naltrexone

A drug that treats people with addictions could help people with Chrons Disease Symptoms

Now you may think that a drug (Naltrexone) that has been approved for treatment of alcohol and narcotic addiction, is a strange choice for a chrons disease treatment?

A Gastroenterologist at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Jill Smith, M.D says that the drug Naltrexone also seems to reverse the inflammation in the intestines caused by Chrons disease and on top of that it also seems to help with the healing of ulcers. These findings were part of a study she carried out on the effects of a low-dose of naltrexone. This study was conducted on Seventeen people who had moderate to severe cases of Chrons Disease.

For people suffering from alcohol or narcotic addiction, the usual dossage of naltrexone is 50 mg. The people with Crohn's disease in the study were only given 4.5 mg that were taken once a day for three months. Of these patients, 89 percent of responded to the low-dose medication and 67 percent had their chrons disease symptoms go into remission. The response to the test was that they also said that their quality of life was greatly improved.

What about side effects?

Seven of the Chrons disease patients reported sleep disturbance whilst taking the drug. There were also reports of Nausea, hair thinning, blurred vision, irritability, mood swings and mild disorientation.

Because of these very encouraging results in the treatment of Chrons disease symptoms, a larger study is being already begun at the Hershey Center. So possibly some good news ahead for Chrons disease suffers!

Advanced Chrons Disease Surgeries

How new Surgery techniques are helping people with Chrons Disease

About four out of every five patients with chrons disease having to undergo some sort of surgery at sometime during their lives, it only stands to reason that any advancement in the techniques of chrons disease surgery will make a real difference.

Below are a few examples on some new advancements in surgery related to chrons disease are helping:

Laparoscopic surgery:

Another new innovation in surgery for people with Chrons disease is known as Laparoscopic surgery which are minimally invasive techniques requiring only a small incision and leaves very little external scarring. Laparoscopic surgery can take longer to perform than conventional surgery techniques, but lead to shorter stays in hospital, which not only saves money, but because chrons disease patients often spend long periods in hospitals can be very important to them.

Fistula Plugs:

For anyone who has had a fistula, and I will know they are often painful as well as being dangerous as they can cause the contents of your intestines to diverge from the anal canal. This can often progress to anal incontinence, abscesses and in the most serious cases systemic infection. There are now certain surgical procedures that can drain the fistula tract but for more difficult lesions there is a new new surgical anal plug which is made from grafted porcine tissue and is then placed over the fistula. This fistula plug then is the catalyst for the growth of fibrotic tissue in the area that will then close off the fistula passage. According to Dr Stein, recent studies have shown this method to be successful in up to half of Chrons patients.


The technique of Strictureplasty has completely changed bowel surgery as the technique allows the surgeon to leave the disease affected length of bowel in place but widen it, which is kind of like letting out the seams on a pant-leg. This saves bowel tissue while "restructuring" it, so that intestinal contents can safely pass through. before Strictureplasty, surgeons would have to cut out whole sections of bowel affected with Chrons disease, shortening the organ which leads to the limiting of the gastrointestinal tract.

Tysabri has been approved for use with Chrons Disease Patients

Good news for Chrons Disease Patients

The US Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of a drug called Tysabri (natalizumab) in the treatment of people with Chrons Disease, the drug has already been used for people suffering with multiple sclerosis and has now got the all clear to be used with people suffering from Chrons Disese.

For more information on this exciting new development check out this post on Chrons Disease

Man says he beat Chrons Disease from Diet in Bible

An author, Jordan Rubin has said that by following the "whole, living and nutrient-rich foods" diet that is described in the bible, he was able to overcome chrons disease.

So has he managed to unearth something that has been overlooked by modern medicine? Or is he just in fact going back to basics an using more conventional wisdom that says you should not eat pork and red meat, but make sure you have a lot of natural foods?

If you are interested I have added his book called "The Makers Diet" below:

The Makers Diet

A book on following diets contained in the bible to beat Chrons Disease by Jordan Rubin

Chrons Disease stuff (usually books) on eBay - You never know what deals you can find on Chrons Disease Books on Ebay

I sometimes feel that it is kind of nice that someone once bought a book on Chrons Disease and now they no longer need it and are passing it on. I have sold some of my books on Chrons on Ebay before and hope that they helped somebody.

If you have a comment about this page or Chrons Disease, please leave a comment, I would love to hear from you.


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