It’s not an easy topic to broach, but sharing about your Crohn’s symptoms can help people understand what you’re going through.
There’s not an etiquette book filled with pointers for living with Crohn’s disease, but there probably should be. Crohn’s symptoms mean unusual changes in diet, weight, energy levels, and hygiene, which can lead to awkward conversations with well-intentioned people. If you’re struggling with ways to talk about your Crohn’s diet, the side effects of Crohn’s medications, or other everyday issues related to your Crohn’s disease, these icebreakers will help you know what to say.
“Crohn’s causes me to lose weight, but it’s not necessarily a good thing.”
Crohn’s disease causes chronic inflammation and erosion of the intestines or bowel. It can affect different regions of the bowel, stomach, or intestines. There are five different types of Crohn’s disease, each affecting different parts of the digestive tract.
There’s no known cause of Crohn’s disease. Experts think that it may be due to the immune system reacting to food or bacteria in the intestines or bowel lining. This is thought to cause the uncontrolled inflammation associated with Crohn’s disease.
Treatment depends on the type and severity of the disease. Each of the five types of Crohn’s disease is associated with its own symptoms and specific regions of the digestive tract:
gastroduodenal Crohn’s disease
Sometimes people experience more than one type of Crohn’s disease at the same time. This means several parts of the digestive tract may be affected at once.
Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Also known as Crohn syndrome and regional enteritis, this chronic disease can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract from mouth to anus.
According to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America, Crohn’s disease affects as many as 780,000 Americans, including both men and women. It can occur at any age, although it is more prevalent among people ages 15 to 35. A large number of cases have also been recorded among people ages 60 to 80.
The exact cause of Crohn’s disease is unknown. However, research suggests that heredity, a weak or malfunctioning immune system, excessive smoking, previous infectious disease, intake of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines and environmental factors contribute to the development of this disease. Also, a poor diet, nutritional deficiencies and stress can contribute to it.
Crohn’s disease is a disease that causes inflammation, irritation, and swelling on any part of the digestive tract, also known as gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The end of the small intestine, ileum, and large intestine, colon, are the parts most affected. The GI tract is a series of hollow organs joined in a long twisting tube connecting the mouth to the anus. The movement of muscles in GI tract helps in the digestion of food along with production of hormones and enzymes.
Experts are not sure of the cause of Crohn’s disease. Some theories of causation exist, it is twice as common in smokers than non-smokers. Researchers believe it is the result of abnormal reactions of our immune system. Usually our immune system protects our body from infection by destroying bacteria, viruses, and other harmful foreign parties, but with Crohn’s, our immune system attacks the bacteria, foods, and other substances that are beneficial.
It took me three years to accept the fact that my Crohn’s disease was never going to go away. In that three years I did a lot of things, both medical and holistic in the hopes that some Band-Aid would stick and my body would heal itself. For three years my quality of life kept declining as time went on and as my GI put it: “Since I’ve started seeing you as a patient, I’ve seen you terrible and better, but never great.”
On the eve of my 23rd birthday, I smoked weed for the first time. I grew up in a drug-free household where my parents were candid about the actual fears they had about me doing drugs (mostly surrounding where I was planning on getting them and if they were safe, and a criminal record that would follow me around). Rather than using fear tactics, they just told me the truth and I respected them enough to listen. Also, I was broke as hell in high school anyway and too busy with grades, activism and life to bother.
Crohn’s disease may not be as well-known as cancer or heart disease, but it can consume a person’s life just as much, if not more so. Crohn’s is a chronic inflammatory disease of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. It most often affects the large and small bowels, though it can wreak havoc on any part of the GI tract.
Here are 14 things doctors want you to know about this disease.
1. There are flare and remission phases
Most people with Crohn’s disease cycle through flare-ups and remissions. Symptoms related to GI inflammation are at their worst during a Crohn’s flare-up. During a remission phase, Crohn’s sufferers feel pretty normal.
Common symptoms of a Crohn’s flare-up include:
abdominal pain (which typically worsens after meals)
painful bowel movements
blood in stool
Crohn’s disease can also manifest in other ways, such as joint pain, eye inflammation, and skin lesions, says Aline Charabaty, M.D., director of the Center for Inflammatory Bowel Diseases at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.
Surgical procedures for Crohn’s are no longer considered a last resort. Here’s what you need to know if your doctor recommends surgery.
Surgery used to be considered a last-resort treatment option for people with Crohn’s disease — an indication that nothing else was working. “As a result, doctors who sent people with Crohn’s for surgery felt like they’d failed — but that’s no longer true,” says Raymond K. Cross, MD, professor of medicine and director of the inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) program at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore. “Today, surgery is an option for Crohn’s that should be explored, particularly when complications are present. Any time I see a person with Crohn’s disease, I bring it up.”
Although newer medications have helped people control their disease (sometimes reducing the need for surgery altogether), surgical procedures are still very common, says Miguel Regueiro, MD, medical director of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s IBD Center in Pennsylvania. According to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America, up to 75 percent of all people with Crohn’s disease need surgery at some point as part of their treatment. Although surgery can’t cure Crohn’s, it can ease a person’s symptoms and provide long-term relief.
Dating and chronic illness — that’s an oxymoron isn’t it? It’s dating someone who prefers sweats, albeit very chic sweats but sweats nonetheless, hot tea to wine and checks out exactly where the bathroom is located in every situation especially at the date’s house and one who immediately thinks of how she can swing it so she has a reason to use the bathroom the furthest away from him… like in the basement as opposed to the lovely warm one right off the living room. Whenever I do get a date, I don’t eat the whole day — well, maybe toast… then there’s the “what to wear” question. Jeans? Dress with no waistband? Next that dreaded fear of, what if I get sick. By then I’m so exhausted and it’s only 3 in the afternoon.
First dates are typically pretty superficial so it’s easy to skate the big talk. On date number two, he suspects something is going on as you ordered the exact same thing as you did on date number one… chicken soup. By date number three, he detects a certain pattern — you order soup again. By now he’s wondering if maybe your palate is not developed, you have allergies or maybe no teeth. But she smiles so that can’t be it, he thinks to himself. He’s too polite to ask and I’m silently squirming in my seat… do I tell him or not? So many schools of thought of this very subject. Some say tell him the first date, others say wait. I get so confused! So if I tell him on date number one, of course he’ll be so sad for me and show compassion. If he is a stand-up guy, and things go well energy-wise, he’ll call again. If he doesn’t call again, you’re never sure if it’s the Crohn’s disease or he’s just not that into you. But if I wait and we really hit it off, it’s going to hurt like hell if I tell him about having Crohn’s and he ghosts me.
Having diarrhea can make it feel like you’re kind of handcuffed (buttcuffed?) to your toilet. For many people, these bouts of excessively loose, watery stools are blessedly infrequent. But for people who have Crohn’s disease, diarrhea and other symptoms can happen often enough to interfere with regular life.
Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease that causes inflammation in the lining of your your digestive tract, which can spread deeper into your digestive tissues, according to the Mayo Clinic. Though people with Crohn’s can have symptom-free periods, during flares they may have to contend with awfully unpleasant or even debilitating symptoms that can run the gamut.