Crohn’s Disease, a chronic inflammatory bowel disease, is typically associated with symptoms that range from mild to severe. The most common areas of the body that are typically affected by this disease are colon and the last part of the small intestine, the ileum.
The symptoms of this disease can either develop gradually or they can come all of a sudden, without prior or due warning. These symptoms may include diarrhea, abdominal pain, and cramping, mouth sores, fever and fatigue, blood in your stool, constipation, weight loss, reduced appetite, etc. in the case of severe symptoms, one may experience inflammation of the skin and joints, ulcers in any area between the mouth and anus, or a perianal fistula that causes pain near the anus.
If you happen to see or experience any of these symptoms, here are 6 important things that you must do:
Consult your doctor
It is highly possible for a person to mistake common symptoms like diarrhea and reduced appetite for Crohn’s. Or they could even avoid the symptoms altogether. In any case, it is best to consult your doctor right away before diagnosing yourself with any disease. You should be able to call your doctor straight away and talk to him or her about the kind or types of symptoms you have been experiencing.
Consulting your doctor will help you get an insight into your situation and he or she might even answer some of the questions that you might have in your head regarding your symptoms. The doctor will also be able to find you the right kind of specialist who has expertise in the field.
See a specialist
For a disease as complicated as Crohn’s, it is suggested and recommended that you also consult a specialist. It is best to get treated by an experienced gastroenterologist, someone who is very well experienced and specializes in the human digestive system.
While you primary care doctor may be able to help you identify your symptoms, chances are that he or she may not be as equipped to accurately diagnose you or suggest medications. This is also imperative because Crohn’s is quite a complex disease to deal with, hence you would definitely need a team of radiologists, nutritionists, surgeons, etc. for your journey.
Get a blood test done
With Crohn’s, there’s no one way or a single test to diagnose a person with the disease. In order to rule out all other possible causes for your symptoms, a blood test is extremely important. Also because one of the symptoms of Crohn’s is the presence of blood in your stool.
These blood tests may include a fecal occult blood test where you would be required to provide the doctor a stool sample in order for him or her to test it for hidden blood. You might also be asked to get a test done for anemia or infection. Anemia is typically associated with a lack of red blood cells to carry sufficient oxygen to your tissues.
The blood test will also check for signs of infection or antibodies in the blood. If your white blood cell count is very high, or there’s an increased level of platelets in your blood, it may be an indication of an inflammation or infection in your body. This inflammation could possibly be a result of Crohn’s and it is best to run a blood test to assess the likelihood.
If you are an avid smoker, you should probably stop smoking cigarettes as soon as you see or experience any of these symptoms. If anything at all, smoking will simply aggravate your symptoms.
Research and studies show that people who smoke are more likely to develop Crohn’s than people who don’t. They also show that smoking leads to a higher chance of increasing the severity of this disease and obviously has a lot of health risks attached to it. Also, not only does smoking make you prone to developing the disease but also increases the risk for flares.
Therefore, in order to prevent the situation from worsening, you need to get rid of your smoking habit which will also decrease the odds for other dangerous smoking-related conditions.
Start taking care of your diet
Since Crohn’s is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and IBD does affect a person’s digestive system, researchers have come to explore the possible link between diet and Crohn’s and other such diseases. Scientists have investigated a wide range of nutrients and food to establish a causal relationship between the two. As a result of extensive research, a few researchers have proposed a link between Crohn’s and a diet high in fats and sugars and low in fruits and vegetables.
While this is still debatable, it is best to take precautions from the start and take care of your diet. Avoiding foods rich in sweets and cakes or red meat is what these researchers recommend. Also, many people with Crohn’s have complained of certain foods that seemed to trigger their symptoms or make them worse.
These included dairy products and spicy foods. While on the other hand, some said they have no particular triggers which suggests that it varies from person to person. Therefore, one should keep track of what they eat and the times when their symptoms occur.
Join a Crohn’s support group
While this may come across as bizarre for some people, it is actually suggested to get in touch with those who experience similar symptoms or have the same disease. According to Joshua Korzenik, director of the Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis Center at Massachusetts General Hospital, it is important for people to understand that there are others who are in a similar boat as them and that they aren’t alone.
A support group will also help you share your experiences with people going through similar conditions and in turn, they can also share theirs with you. This will help you better understand your symptoms, get firsthand information on the disease, the precautionary measures that you should take, how to stop your symptoms from worsening and the next steps that you should take.
As complicated as Crohn’s is, it is never too late to stop the symptoms from developing into a full-blown disease. If you act quickly as a response to the growing symptoms, you might just be able to prevent yourself and your body from further damage. It is absolutely essential to get the right kind of help and treatment when it comes to chronic conditions, be it Crohn’s or any other disease.
About the Author
Kamil Riaz Kara is a Writer and Inbound Marketer. He has completed his Masters in Administrative Science from the University of Karachi. Currently, he is writing on mental health, fitness, and lifestyle. Visit his company blog and check the latest post on Online Dementia Test. Connect him on LinkedIn for more details.