National Crohn's Disease And Colitis Week

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March 20 to 26 is National Crohn's Disease and Colitis week.Crohn's disease is an auto-immune disease that causes chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract anywhere between the mouth and the anus. The inflammation is found most commonly in the colon and the lower part of the small intestine. Often the entire bowel wall is swollen and thickened which reduces the width of the intestine and may lead to obstruction. The inflammation is generally patchy with some of the gastrointestinal wall being healthy, whilst others having ulcers and perhaps even abscesses.

The cause of Crohn's disease is not known, but it is believed that multiple factors may be involved. These include diet (particularly high in sugar), smoking, taking the oral contraceptive pill, genetic or hereditary factors and an abnormal functioning of the immune system.

Patients diagnosed with Crohn's disease usually suffer from pain in the abdomen, diarrhoea and weight loss. Some may suffer from pains in the rectum, mucous in the stools, appetite loss and fever. Food absorption is usually affected by Crohn's disease as nutrients may not pass through the walls of inflamed intestines.Many people with Crohn's disease suffer from Iron deficiency, Vitamin B12 deficiency and folic acid deficiency anaemia's.

Crohn's disease should be diagnosed by your doctor. A diagnosis is made based on symptoms as well as an X-ray examination. There are prescription medications available to treat the symptoms of Crohn's disease, and if areas are infected, antibiotics may be required. If some inflammation becomes extremely severe, surgery may be an option. The treatment aim is generally to control symptoms and maintain a good quality of life.

As well as medications some lifestyle changes can be made to relieve the symptoms of Crohn's disease. Foods that are high in sugar, fat and spices should be avoided as they may trigger inflammation. Food which are difficult to digest such as nuts should also be avoided. Fish oils have been beneficial in inflammatory bowel conditions, as well as drinking plenty of water to replace fluids that are lost in diarrhoea. Lactose intolerance often goes hand in hand with Crohn's disease, so dairy products should be avoided.