What is Crohn’s Disease?
Crohn’s disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that may affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract from mouth to anus. However, as we’ll share below, there are things you can do to improve your autoimmune disease.
What Causes Crohn’s Disease?
Scientists believe that Crohn’s disease is caused by a combination of these factors. But, that doesn’t mean that you necessarily need to know the root cause in order to establish a healing system.
- Immune system problems
- Environmental factors
In more advanced cases this inflammation can lead to ankylosis. Which means that, new bone formation in the spine can cause sections of the spine to fuse in a fixed, immobile position.
Is Crohn’s Disease Autoimmune?
Yes, Crohn’s Disease is autoimmune. For some reason, the immune system in those with Crohn’s disease reacts inappropriately, causing it to either attack healthy bacteria, or lose it’s ability to “turn off” when fighting bad bacteria, causing inflammation and damage to the digestive tract, and often other areas of the body called “extraintestinal manifestations.”
Here is a list of common symptoms associated with this disease. But, this does not mean that you will have all of these.
- Constipation (in rare cases or if strictures have developed)
- Abdominal cramping and pain
- Very frequent bowel movements
- Blood in stool
- Reduced appetite
- Mouth ulcers or canker sores
- Rectal Pain
Extra-intestinal Manifestations may include:
- Iritis/eye inflammation
- Joint pain
How Crohn’s Disease Diagnosed
Unfortunately, there is no single test to determine if a Crohn’s disease diagnosis should be given to a patient. Your doctor will likely use a variety of tests to determine if you have Crohn’s disease. Check the Crohn’s Disease symptoms below to help you establish whether you may or may not have Crohn’s Disease.
- There is a chart here that explains the benefit of various types of blood tests (and whether they are used in clinical practice). This article from the US National Library of Medicine is a good one to consider; albeit quite scientific.
Possible Lab Tests to Determine Diagnosis:
- BLOOD TESTS: Your doctor may suggest an anemia blood tests to determine if you have enough red blood cells to carry oxygen adequately.
- STOOL TESTS: In addition, you may be asked to provide a stool test so you doctor can look for hidden blood or other issues in your stool.
Finding the Right Doctor:
There are differences between a Gastoenterologist and an IBD-specialist. Be sure to use the Crohn’s and Colitis Specialist Search found here and use other online doctor review sites.
Questions to Ask Your Doctor:
These are a few questions to ask when you establish a new doctor to support your Crohn’s Disease:
- How quickly can I be seen in an emergency?
- Will diet aid in healing? (This is a good way to ask without making them feel threatened. If the answer is no…run!)
- How do I contact the office if I’m having problems or complications? (Do they have an online portal for quick communication?)
- Do you offer alternative methods of healing alongside medicine? (Dietary and supplemental approaches to correct deficiencies, alongside more extensive blood work)
- How often do you take labs, and what will you be testing for? (Many medications require testing, and many doctors do not keep up with this. It is good to know the doctor’s approach to this, and compare to the medication’s suggestions. Remember: A proactive doctor is a good doctor. You want one who will work to manage your condition, not just put a band-aid over symptoms).
- What is your philosophy on colonoscopies? (Routine, or when symptomatic? *compare this to your philosophy) -Do you believe in a bottom-up or top-down approach? *insurance may play a huge part in this, as well as the severity of your condition
On-going Questions for your Doctor:
Once you have established the best Crohn’s Disease doctor for you, here are some questions you will want to ask on-going:
- Do you offer pre-treatment for infusions? (to prevent reactions)
- How often do you take labs, and what will you be testing for? *When being placed on a new medication (Many medications require testing, and many doctors do not keep up with this. It is good to know the doctor’s approach to this, and compare to the medication’s suggestions).
- Are there certain patients who can eventually be medication free, or do you continue medication for precaution? *This may depend on the severity of your condition upon diagnosis. Keep an open dialogue with your doctor to come up with a plan that you both feel comfortable with.
Living With Crohn’s Disease
ABOUT |Hi, my name is Madi! I am 23-years-old, and recently graduated with my bachelor’s degree in Human Development. I live in Tennessee, and absolutely love all things outdoors. I am also extremely passionate about holistic health, and providing resources for others through recipes, tips, and encouragement in their journey’s toward health. I love
Jesus, and believe my purpose on earth is to share His love, and
use my own story and challenges to be an encouragement to others.
AUTOIMMUNE DISEASES | Crohn’s Disease
ABOUT |Stacy Ransom is a wife, mother and marketing specialist living in Southern California. Since being diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, Spondyloarthritis and chronic migraines in 2015, Stacy has been a dedicated advocate for the autoimmune community through her blog, The Gutsy Girl.
With a focus on sharing science-based solutions, she has found a balance between conventional and natural medicine to promote healing and overall well-being, and is driven by her mission to empower patients to be their own best advocate.
AUTOIMMUNE DISEASES | Crohn’s Disease, Spondyloarthritis
Is Crohn’s Disease Curable?
Unfortunately no, Crohn’s Disease is not curable. However, there are several treatments you can add to your life – to include a modified diet in order to push your diagnosis in remission.
Crohn’s Disease Treatment
Treatment for Crohn’s Disease can differ between patients.
Crohn’s Disease Diet
We believe that there is no diet that is right for everyone, and each individual’s body reacts differently to food, and nutrition sources. Many people thrive off just eating a “clean” diet, while others need more specific diets.
However, many patients with Crohn’s Disease have found that the SCD is a helpful diet to begin eliminating foods to determine the root cause. In it’s essence, the SCD Diet is an elimination diet. There is an “Intro” stage, and then 5 more stages to follow in which you should monitor your body’s reactions to each new food reintroduction. Here is an easy breakdown of these stages.
Crohn’s Disease Medication
Everything from anti-inflammatory drugs, to immune suppressants, to biologics are given to Crohn’s Disease patients. Medications vary widely and should be determined by a licensed physician. However, we do recommend that you first seek support naturally before biologics or other invasive drugs.
Here is a link of the most common medications used to treat/manage CD, but all treatments depend on severity of condition:
Additional support supplements include:
- Multi-vitamin (due to absorption issues)
- Calcium (most CD patients cannot tolerate dairy, so adequate Calcium intake is important)
- Vitamin D (many CD patients are severely vitamin D deficient, contributing to fatigue symptoms. Vitamin D has also been proven to anti-inflammatory properties).
- Turmeric/Curcumin (clinically proven to have anti-inflammatory properties. Most manufacturers include black pepper to assist with absorption. However, black pepper is a gut irritant and should be avoided in CD patients. Instead, take on an empty stomach to improve bioavailability.)
- Vitamin B12 (may also help with fatigue, but users should have their levels checked before started any new regimen)
Additional Stress Reliever Support:
Here are some great stress relievers that are helpful for Crohn’s disease diagnosis:
- Supplements such as: Gaba, Ashwagandha, 5HTP, Fish Oil (Be sure to use the correct DHA to EPA.
- Exercise (For example, low weights, walking, hiking, biking.)
- Infrared Sauna
- Support Groups: Information on how to find them in your area, how to connect with other CD patients, CCFA groups, MeetUp.com, etc.
Crohn’s Disease vs Ulcerative Colitis
The difference between Crohn’s Diseae vs Ulcerative Colitis, is that ulcerative colitis affects the innermost lining of your large intestine (colon) and rectum. Symptoms usually develop over time, rather than suddenly.
Autoimmune Disease Resources
Here are some great websites, authors, podcasts and other resources to help you navigate your Autoimmune Disease.
These are the women that have shared their autoimmune journey with us. Please take a moment to read some of their brave, honest and revealing stories about their diagnosis, successes, hardships and their lives.