Crohn's disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), characterized by inflammation of the intestines and thickening of the bowel lead to excruciating pain in the abdominal area. It is an autoimmune disorder, and the exact cause for such autoimmune reaction is not clearly known. However, it has been associated with certain genetic factors and infectious triggers. The disease may progress along with the age, in absence of prompt and proper treatment. It can lead to several gastrointestinal problems since it is the disease of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, consisting of organs from mouth to anus. Although it can affect any part of the GI tract, swelling of the small intestine is more commonly noticed..
The Life Expectancy
There is no certain answer as to how long will the patient survive after the Crohn's disease has been diagnosed. It all depends on the lifestyle that you choose to lead. A few decades ago, prognosis of this disease used to be quite unfavorable. But availability of medications like 'Remicade' has helped increase the life expectancy of the patients. As the disease affects mainly the intestines, patients need to take a lot of care regarding diet and lifestyle.
With advanced technology and new pharmaceutical discoveries; symptoms of Crohn's disease can be reduced significantly with medications and if required, with surgery. But the patients are expected to follow certain dietary modifications and lifestyle changes. Correct and prompt treatment helps increase the life expectancy of people diagnosed with Crohn's disease. Take a look at the symptoms of Crohn's disease which will help you understand the role of lifestyle changes in increasing the life expectancy of people diagnosed with the disease.
Inflammation of all layers of the intestines is seen in patients of Crohn's disease. Some parts of the bowel can be healthy while some can be diseased. There can be healthy parts in between the diseased parts of the intestines. Severe lower right quadrant abdominal pain and diarrhea are the main symptoms of this disease. Abdominal cramps, bloody stools are common as the inflammation of the intestines leads to internal bleeding. Patients suffering from this disease may have 10-12 or even more bowel movements a day, resulting in excessive fatigue and weakness. Nutrients provided through diet may not be properly absorbed due to bowel problem. This can lead to weak immune system and several health complications like anemia, stunted growth, development of scar tissues leading to intestinal blockage, fistulas or fissures in anus, etc. In case of some patients, symptoms may disappear and reappear after a certain period of time. The type, pattern and severity of symptoms may vary from person to person.
Those who have a family history of Crohn's disease need to take care of themselves as they are more likely to have the disease. The disease is more common in certain races and in people belonging to the age group 20-30. Gender does not play any role; the disease can affect men and women equally.
How to Manage Crohn's Disease
Corticosteroids and anti-inflammatory drugs are recommended for Crohn's disease. If the person's own immune system is considering the food, bacteria and other substances as foreign bodies, then immune system suppressors are prescribed. These drugs can affect the immunity of the person, and can lead to side effects like nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Antibiotics help curb the growth of bacteria. Some other medications are given to reduce diarrhea. In severe cases, the affected parts of the intestines are removed surgically. In any case, patients need to follow the instructions of the doctor religiously. It is a fact that excessive medication can affect the overall health of the person significantly.
Consumption of organic food helps lower the symptoms, and also reduces the chances of flare ups. Limited consumption of dairy products and consumption of low fat foods help avoid stomach problems like indigestion, stomach pain, gas and bloating. Gas producing foods like chickpeas, beans, broccoli, bulky grains, etc., should not be included in the Crohn's disease diet. Patients need to avoid hot spices as well.
There is no need to say that use of alcohol and smoking should be strictly avoided. Excessive loss of fluid due to diarrhea can prove to be harmful for the body. So people diagnosed with Crohn's disease need to replenish the body with healthy fluids. They need to drink plenty of water throughout the day. They should consume fruit juices, soups, porridge, etc., at regular intervals. Instead of having 2-3 large meals, they should have 6-7 small meals and snacks throughout the day. They can opt for dietary supplements like Lactaid which help digest milk and dairy products. To replenish the body with nutrients, they need to take nutritional supplements, after consulting the physician. High calorie liquid formulas or intravenous supply of nutrients is recommended when intestines need rest. Fluid replacement helps maintain balance of electrolytes in the body.
Excessive weakness and affected bodily functions can result in nervousness and depression. Patients of Crohn's disease need strong family support. They should keep themselves engaged in favorite activities to overcome depression symptoms. Excessive stress can result in outbursts of symptoms or worsening of symptoms. They can practice meditation or learn some breathing techniques which act as natural stress relievers. They need to sleep well and eat well if they want to lead a stress free lifestyle.
With diet control and a few lifestyle changes, patients of Crohn's disease can make the disease stay in remission. Crohn's disease average life expectancy and the life expectancy of a normal, healthy person would include the same number of years, if the Crohn's patient takes proper care of himself.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice.