3 Ways to Manage Crohn’s Disease
Roughly 3 million Americans are affected by Crohn’s disease. Chronic disease can be overwhelming, however, there are ways to actively manage the physical and emotional impacts of living with Crohn’s disease.
Understanding the signs and symptoms of Crohn’s disease is an important factor in managing the disease. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and usually develop gradually. The most common active signs and symptoms include diarrhea, weight loss, abdominal pain, and cramping. Other less common symptoms include fever, fatigue, blood in your stool, and mouth sores. Those with more severe Crohn’s disease may also experience inflammation of the skin, eyes, joints, liver or bile ducts.
Paying attention to your diet is essential. Crohn’s disease can often reduce your appetite while increasing your body’s energy. Symptoms like diarrhea can reduce your body’s ability to absorb protein, carbohydrates, water, vitamins, and minerals. To replace these lost nutrients and reduce symptoms your doctor may recommend a specific diet that is high calorie, lactose-free or low fat. In general, try to avoid spicy food, greasy food, fried foods, beans, cabbage, broccoli, caffeine, and carbonated drinks which cause gas. Low fiber fruits, lean proteins, refined grains, and fully cooked, seedless, skinless, non-cruciferous vegetables are recommended. Eating smaller meals throughout the day and using simple cooking techniques like boiling, grilling, and steaming can help with daily nutrition.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle for those with Crohn’s disease is imperative. Smoking and alcohol consumption can make your symptoms worse, difficult to treat, and can trigger flares. To help control Crohn’s disease it is best to quit smoking and limit alcohol consumption. You should develop stress relief strategies and partake in activities such as yoga and meditation. Regular exercise can also be beneficial with reducing stress, depression and boosting the immune system. It’s important to have a support network of family and friends to help you through difficult times. Mental health professionals can also help. Lastly, get enough sleep. Fatigue can be a symptom of Crohn’s disease, so be sure to get the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep and take naps to recharge.
Besides recognizing your symptoms, living a healthy lifestyle and eating well – medication, vitamins, therapy, good hygiene, regular communication, and visits with your doctor can contribute to managing Crohn’s disease. Our board-certified physicians are here to help, feel free to call Digestive Health Associates or Digestive Health Center or visit our FAQ page.Back to "Blog"