When Your Child Contracts Crohn’s Disease
Approximately 30% of those who suffer from Crohn’s Disease are diagnosed before the age of 20. The illness is a chronic condition, meaning there is no known cure. A child with unexplained weight loss, fatigue, joint pain, and stunted growth should be immediately evaluated by a doctor for signs of the disease. Experts estimate that more than 100,000 teenagers suffer from the debilitating disease in America.
Sometimes more serious symptoms appear requiring immediate attention. These symptoms include rectal bleeding, severe stomach pain, frequent diarrhea, and accompanied by vomiting. Crohn’s Disease is an inflammatory disease that attacks the gastrointestinal tract, from the mouth to the anus, which is what makes it distinctive from other irritable bowel problems. Crohn’s presents a special challenge for young sufferers as it may stunt growth and cause a delay in the onset of puberty as well as a weakening of the bones. The illness may keep a young person from taking part in the normal young activities causing emotional and psychological issues of having to live daily with a chronic disorder.
Conventional wisdom from the traditional medical community preaches that there is no known cause of Crohn’s, however some researchers are successfully using diet as way to combat the illness. Some even claim success at finding a cure through diet, specifically a raw food diet of organic fruits and vegetables. Doctors do admit that certain foods can trigger the symptoms of Crohn’s and that by eliminating these various foods from the diet, a sufferer can control outbreaks.
Researchers think Crohn’s is initially triggered genetically in combination with environmental factors. They speculate that genetically susceptible persons undergo an abnormal immune response setting off the disease. In other words, something will trigger the immune system to turn on, however it won’t turn off, continuing to cause inflammation. Crohn’s Disease apparently runs in families with 15-20% of those diagnosed also have a family member who similarly suffers. To date, several genes have been linked to the disease, but there is apparently no clear pattern as to how these genes may interact to cause the disease.
Each episode of symptoms depends on where the inflammation occurs. About 70% of young people have an inflamed ileum. More than half of these young people also suffer inflammation in segments of their colon. About 10% of young people must deal with inflamed colons only, while another 10% must learn how to live with inflammation in various parts of the small bowel. Some children and young people have stomach inflammation, that part of the intestine where the stomach empties into the bowel.
A child with a chronic condition like Crohn’s affect the lifestyle and living arrangements of the whole family. Depending on the age of the child, all others in the household become care givers for the one, which can cause stress, as well as buildups of resentments and feelings that life must revolve around the one. If this begins to manifest then it is wise for the entire family to seek counseling for any of several support groups, readily available to help families through crisis of this kind.