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Crohn’s Disease 101: Everything The World Should Know

Education is power. With education we can become advocates for the people around us. We can make their lives easier. We can make our own lives easier. We can be inspired and inspire others to raise money for crucial research to one day find a cure. Let’s get educated!

The-BasicsWhat is Crohn’s Disease?

Crohn’s Disease was named after Dr. Burrill B. Crohn who first described the disease in 1932, although it is mostly considered a 20th century disease. Crohn’s Disease, an inflammatory bowel disease, is a chronic inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract. It most commonly affects the end of the small bowel and the beginning of the colon, but it can affect any part of the GI tract. Ulcerative Colitis is in the same category of diseases, but is limited to the colon.

What are the symptoms?

Crohn’s is a chronic condition which means people will experience periods of flare-ups and symptoms, followed by periods of remission where symptoms go away. Symptoms include persistent diarrhea, rectal bleeding, urgency, abdominal cramps and pain, constipation, fever, appetite loss, weight loss, fatigue, night sweats, and loss of normal menstrual cycle.

What causes Crohn’s Disease?

The cause is not completely understood, although research suggests hereditary, genetic, and/or environmental factors are contributors. In people with IBD, the immune system mistakes harmless bacteria in the intestines for harmful invaders. Cells travel out of the blood to the intestines and cause inflammation that does not subside, leading to chronic inflammation and ulceration. Diet and stress play a role in symptoms and current research is looking at whether these and other environmental factors also play a role in causation.

Who is affected?

Crohn’s Disease affects men and women equally and is most prevalent among people ages 15 and 35. It typically runs in families and is most common among people of eastern European backgrounds, although recently there has been an increase of cases among African Americans. Crohn’s is more common in developed countries, urban areas, and northern climates.

What are the treatments for Crohn’s Disease?

Prescription medications are most commonly used. Some of them are given intravenously or injected. Please click here for a detailed explanation on treatments.myths-busted.jpgCommon Myths About Crohn’s Disease

  1. Irritable Bowel Syndrome is the same as Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Although a few symptoms are similar like diarrhea and abdominal pain, these two diseases are very different.  IBS does not cause inflammation, ulcers, or other damage to the bowel. It is much less serious.
  2. Stress causes Crohn’s, so just be more positive. There is no proof that stress causes Crohn’s Disease. There is evidence, however, that anxiety and stress are symptoms of Crohn’s Disease. Either way, telling a patient to just be positive is not helpful. 
  3. Follow a special diet and you will be cured. This is simply not true. No one diet is going to cure someone’s disease. It may help relieve symptoms, but the fact is this disease is so much more complicated than that. Patients are encouraged to form a diet that works best for them.
  4. A Crohn’s Disease patient is always sick and in the hospital. Although some patients can find themselves in and out of the hospital often, many of them reach long periods of remission. They can live pretty normal lives. 
  5. Surgery will cure Crohn’s Disease. Unlike Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn’s Disease may not go away when the diseased part of the intestine is removed. It can come back in another part of the GI tract.

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Friend or family of a Crohnie? Here’s some advice.

We’re going to fart. It’s not going to smell good. We can’t hold it in because that hurts us. We will try to leave the room, but sometimes that’s not possible.

We are going to stink up the bathroom sometimes. Trust me, we are way more embarrassed about it than you are disgusted.

We are going to cancel on you at the last minute. We don’t mean to be rude, but we really don’t feel good. I know we confirmed plans only 30 minutes ago, but that’s how quickly our symptoms can kick in.

You’re going to cook an elaborate dinner and I am not going to finish my plate. Trust me, it looks delicious and I am dreaming about eating it all.

We’re going to feel tired sometimes, but we’re going to push through because we care about our time with you. If you notice we are a bit low on energy, encourage us to take a break.

We are going to soil our pants or the bed sheets. We are going to be so embarrassed like we want to hide under a rock forever. Please help us find the humor in this.

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What Never to Say to a Crohnie

“But you don’t look sick.”

“Stop worrying so much. Just be happy.”

“You go to the bathroom a lot.”

“Did you just fart? Wow, that smells terrible.”

“You’re so skinny. Do you have an eating disorder?”

“Wow, that’s a lot of medicine in your purse. Ever consider trying a more natural approach?”

“You should have eaten healthier when you were a kid, then maybe you wouldn’t be sick.”TOP-musthaves-1024x375.jpgCrohnie To-Go Kit: Must Haves When You Leave the House

– Baby wipes

– Scented spray

– Extra pair of shorts/pants and undies (Just keep them in the trunk of your car)

– Your doctor’s phone number in your cell phone

– Peppermint pills or your choice of tummy soother

– A sense of humorSelf-Love.jpgDaily Self-Affirmations for a Crohnie

  • Crohn’s Disease isn’t my fault. I did nothing wrong to get this disease.
  • I am doing my best. In fact, I am already stronger than most people I know.
  • I am allowed to be stressed today. I am dealing with a lot, so I am going to be easy on myself today.
  • I am no less than anyone else. Everyone around me is struggling. My struggle happens to be Crohn’s Disease.
  • Crohn’s is a part of me, but it doesn’t have to define me. I am whole and enough and worth everything the world has to offer.

Funny Crohn’s Memes For the Soul

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