Thursday, April 3, 2008

Living With Crohn's Disease

My son was diagnosed with Crohn's twelve years ago. Last week I was diagnosed with the same disease.
Although my specialist won't confirm until further testing, I have been sick for over a month now. Crohn's symptoms sometimes mimiicks other digestive disorders, so until we rid of the infection, we can't proceed with treatment.

I had never heard of Crohn's before my son was diagnosed. Now I hear people having this disease so often. If you are not familiar with this disease, I'll quote Wikipedia which states it best:

Crohn's disease (also known as regional enteritis) is a chronic, episodic, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and is generally classified as an autoimmune disease. Crohn's disease can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract from mouth to anus; as a result, the symptoms of Crohn's disease vary among afflicted individuals. The disease is characterized by areas of inflammation with areas of normal lining between in a symptom known as skip lesions. The main gastrointestinal symptoms are abdominal pain, diarrhea (which may be bloody, though this may not be visible to the naked eye), constipation, vomiting, weight loss or weight gain. Crohn's disease can also cause complications outside of the gastrointestinal tract such as skin rashes, arthritis, and inflammation of the eye.

Crohn's disease affects between 400,000 and 600,000 people in North America. Although the cause of Crohn's disease is not known, it is believed to be an autoimmune disease that is genetically linked. The highest relative risk occurs in siblings, affecting males and females equally. Smokers are three times more likely to get Crohn's disease.

When my son is having an episode, I am the one providing care. I have done extensive research on Crohn's.
I immediately change his diet and cook often with a crock pot. When cooking in a crock pot on slow for 8 hours, you are breaking down the molecules in the food to make digestion easier. You need to eat soluble fiber vs. insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber includes: Rice, Pasta and noodles,Oatmeal,Barley, Fresh white breads such as French or sourdough (NOT whole wheat or whole grain),Rice cereals, Flour tortillas, Soy, Quinoa, Corn meal,Potatoes,Carrots, Yams,Sweet potatoes,Turnips,Rutabagas, Parsnips, Beets, Squash and pumpkins, Mushrooms, Chestnuts,Avocados (though they do have some fat), Bananas, Applesauce, Mangoes,Papayas (also digestive aids that relieve gas and indigestion). Stay away from food high in fat.

Soluble fiber soothes and regulates the digestive tract, stabilizes the intestinal contractions resulting from the gastrocolic reflex, and normalizes bowel function from either extreme. Soluble fiber prevents and relieves both diarrhea and constipation.

Since I have been ill, I have been using recipes for IBS, the crock pot, not eating any dairy (except lactose free products), making sure I eat soluble fiber and taking probotics.

I was impressed my specialist referred me to probotics, as this is considered alternative care. Probotic supplements help build and maintain a natural defense against a full range of digestive upsets: constipation, diarrhea, urgency, gas and bloating. If you don't have enough 'good' bacteria in the digestive system, this will sometimes cause digestive upsets.

If anyone suffers from this disease, I want to include the following resources that have helped us.

Recipes for the Specific Carbohydrate Diet by Elaine Gottschall

Self-care- Mayo Clinic

Crohn's Online

Irritable Bowel Syndrome Diet: This site has helped us tremendously with the information and recipes provided

IBS: Controlling Your Symptoms

Crohn's & Me- Other Useful Links


Stephanie Ryan said...

Have you considered food intolerances? I know that a lot of people with celiac disease/intolerances have Crohn's or symptom similar to it and benefit greatly by removing gluten from their diet. Here is a link to investigate.Go to their forum section. There is a lot of great information there.

Good luck

Robin Lee Sardini said...

You have given me some answers to some recently troubling problems! Thank you. And I am glad to hear you are being helped by probiotics!

AC Associates said...

Hello Stephanie,
Thanks so much for sharing this information. I will look into it.
I do buy many products that are gluten free and lactose free. I've been reading labels for years!
It was so nice of you to take the time to comment.

Hi Robin,
This is a very late reply,huh? But I hope you understand why it's taken me so long...
As you know, things are getting better.
Talk soon