Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease that causes chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. Crohn’s is a long-term condition that hinders your body’s ability to absorb important nutrients in respect to how you digest food and eliminate waste.
Crohn’s can involve any part of your gut, but the most commonly affected area is the ileum. As a result of the inflammation, you may experience symptoms such as:
- Diarrhea/watery bowel movements
- Fecal urgency
- Difficulty passing stool
- Bleeding from your rectum
- Abdominal pain and cramping
- Reduced appetite and weight loss
- Nausea and vomiting
Symptoms may come and go, and people may refer to this as a “flare-up”. This is when a condition momentarily worsens in severity then eventually subsides. We don’t fully understand what causes people to have a flare-up of Crohn’s, and often these flare-ups can occur suddenly. This unpredictability can be difficult when it comes to carrying out day-to-day activities such as working, socializing, planning future activities, travelling, etc.
Taking medications recommended by your doctor will help prevent flare-ups. Aim to be as consistent as possible when it comes to taking your medications. Even if you have no symptoms, missing a dose can lead to a flare-up. You should also work with your doctor to create a treatment plan for when they do happen. The duration of a flare-up can last a few days or even a few months, depending on the severity. It is important to keep your doctor informed of changes in your symptoms, especially if they get worse.
Mental and Emotional Health
The body and mind are intimately connected, and the symptoms of Crohn’s can result in emotional distress/difficulties. Despite the challenges of coping with a chronic condition, it is important to be mindful of your stress and emotional levels. While emotional factors are not a major cause of Crohn’s disease, flare-ups can occur during emotionally trying times.
Stress can affect the way that food moves through your digestive system and aggravate certain symptoms such as abdominal pain, cramping, and diarrhea. Since stress can induce even more stress, look for healthy ways to diffuse it. Regular exercise can help improve your mood, your bodily functions, and sense of well-being. You can also try yoga, deep-breathing exercises, and meditation.
Crohn’s Disease Remission
“Remission” is when your Crohn’s disease is not active and there is no inflammation in your digestive system. When doctors have evidence that there is no inflammation (through blood, stool, or endoscopy tests) they may refer to your remission as “clinical remission”. If your indicators suggest that you still have inflammation but no symptoms of Crohn’s disease, this is known as “symptomatic remission”. Once in clinical remission, some people remain symptom-free for many years. Being in remission should allow you to live a close to normal, if not, entirely normal life. Some people even forget that they have Crohn’s disease when they are in remission. However, it is critical that you stick to your treatment plan in order to stay healthy.
Coming to terms with a newly diagnosed disease such as Crohn’s can be tough. You may be feeling emotions such as anxiety, sadness, anger, or even have feelings of isolation. But remember, you are not alone, thousands of individuals get diagnosed with Crohn’s disease every year in Canada, and there are many places you can go to get support such as https://crohnsandcolitis.ca/ and my https://www.mycrohnsandcolitisteam.com/