Crohn’s disease is not a common disease. As a matter of fact, David France states in his article Crohn’s Disease in CCFA.org, approximately 500,000 Americans have been diagnosed with Crohn’s. In most cases people are not familiar with the disease unless they know someone diagnosed with it. My best friend and co-worker suffered unbearable pains and uncontrollable symptoms in November which later turned into Crohn’s disease.
In November all her doctor could find was a stomach ulcer and hiatal hernia. Her blood tests would only show low vitamin D, so x-rays were ordered. A variety of x-rays were taken from her foot, her gall bladder, and finally some to check to see if there was evidence of a stone somewhere. The only test that revealed anything was wrong was her gall bladder, which was eventually removed. Months later the pain and nausea returned. In July, her colonoscopy detected ulcers in the small and large intestine. The diagnosis was in, it was Crohn’s disease.
According to David France, as stated in his article About Crohn’s Disease in CCFA.org, Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis are only categories of a bigger illness called inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD (http://www.ccfa.org/printview?pageUrl=/info/about/crohns). France also states that it is difficult to ultimately diagnose either one of these categories specifically because their symptoms are so similar. They both share one main strong feature, however, the abnormal response by the body’s immune system. France continues to explain that Crohn’s disease affects both the small and large intestine, but also may involve any part of the GI tract. Ulcerative colitis however, the affected part is limited only to the colon, or large intestine.
Dennis Lee, MD, explains in his article Crohn’s Disease that “Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory disease of the intestines” (http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=332). None of the studies conducted has proven the cause of Crohn’s, but there are many theories that suggest possible causes. The main theory for the cause suggests that the body’s immune system mistakes bacteria, foods, and other substances as invaders and attacks them. Meanwhile, white blood cells gather in the intestine causing the inflammation which turn into ulcers. The body’s reactions to antigens in the environment could be the cause of the inflammation. Other theories suggest a hereditary by genes cause of the immune system itself.
National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse’s article Crohn’s Disease explains that because people with Crohn’s have to live with this chronic disease, they experience an increase in their stress levels. Crohn’s is not caused by stress rather Crohn’s causes stress because of having to deal with this disease. Furthermore, Crohn’s is not changed because of a person’s diet, but a person’s diet can help decrease the severity of the symptoms.
In CCFA.org, David France tells of 5 different types of Crohn’s disease and the symptoms that come with them. Each type has differences, but all include stomach pain, diarrhea, cramping, nausea and abdominal pain. The various types require a number of medications to treat them but not prevent or cure them. David France also breaks down the most common and critical symptoms of Crohn’s in this same article. The cause of the abdominal pain is the frequent vomiting, but the abdomen could also become bloated. Surgery could be required if the medication does not work or if the obstruction is too severe. Sores or ulcers within the intestine are also complications which affect 30 percent of people with Crohn’s. The last major complication associated with Crohn’s is deficiencies in proteins, calories, and vitamins due to malnutrition. The pain caused by food may cause some people with Crohn’s to malnourish themselves causing their levels to decrease. (http://www.ccfa.org/printview?pageUrl=/info/about/crohns).
An illness like Crohn’s disease can cause a threat to the lifestyle of those who must live with it. As any chronic illness, stress can manipulate the course that Crohn’s takes with a patient because both the body and mind are so closely interrelated. People who are diagnosed with Crohn’s should be understood and supported emotionally by those who surround them. A variety of emotions follow after one is diagnosed with an illness such as this, but the best way to cope with it according to David France is to plan as if you are traveling. Make yourself aware of your surroundings, know where bathrooms are, always remember to take enough medication, and in most cases people carry and extra change of clothing. Although some might feel relief to finally know what caused them so much pain, they should not feel alone and should go on with life as any other day (http://www.ccfa.org/printview?pageUrl=/info/about/crohns).