Crohn’s disease is one of many inflammatory bowel diseases. It affects around 3 million people from children to adults in America. Its symptoms affect your gastrointestinal (GI) tract and commonly cause severe diarrhea. While there is no cure for Crohn’s yet, it can be managed effectively.
Living with Crohn’s can be difficult and sometimes embarrassing. You can help yourself feel more in control by gaining some understanding of this condition. So, we’ve got 5 facts about Crohn’s to help you regain some control.
1.You Can Get Crohn’s at Any Age
Crohn’s is most often thought of as a “young people’s disease”. Most people are diagnosed before they turn 30, and around 30% of people living with Crohn’s were diagnosed before they were 20. But that doesn’t mean you can only develop it while you’re young: symptoms can arise at any time.
This is important to know because the earlier you get diagnosed, the better, so you should always communicate with your doctor about any GI distress you experience. That way, you have a better chance of catching it early, so your doctor can create a treatment plan to help you manage symptoms.
2.Your Diet Isn’t the Cause
Because Crohn’s symptoms often flare up after eating certain foods, it was once believed that the condition was caused by your diet. That isn’t the case though. It’s been found that it more likely stems from genetics and a poor immune system response. It’s still a good idea to track which foods cause your flare ups though, because this is different for everyone. Knowing what to avoid can help reduce your chances of a flare up.
3. Crohn’s Affects More Than Your Bowels.
Since Crohn’s is a bowel disease, it’s easy to think that your bowels will be the only thing affected. Unfortunately, that’s not true. It can cause issues outside of your GI tract, including:
- Skin rashes
- Red or inflamed eyes
- Pain or soreness in joints
- Kidney stones
It can also affect your entire GI tract, not just your bowels. Your GI tract runs through your entire body, and includes your esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, and colon. Crohn’s can cause issues in the entire tract, or sometimes it can affect a few parts and leave the others totally healthy. Your doctor will perform tests like a colonoscopy to get a good read on your GI tract to find exactly what area the disease is targeting.
4.Crohn’s Often Leads to Surgery
We know that statement sounds scary, but it’s true. Unfortunately, around 70% of people living with Crohn’s have to undergo some form of surgery. This happens if or when medication stops being effective, or if your condition causes an emergency.
Your doctor will try to create and adjust your treatment plan to avoid surgery, but it is important to be aware that it’s a very real possibility.
There are a few types of surgeries that could be needed to treat Crohn’s:
- Ileostomy – This is where a doctor will create a hole in your abdomen to redirect the small bowel.
- Colostomy – Similar to an ileostomy, your doctor will redirect your large bowel through a hole in your abdomen. The difference is it connects the large bowel, instead of your small bowel, to your abdominal wall. Sometimes after your bowel has had time to heal properly this surgery can be reversed.
- Colectomy – Often referred to as a bowel resection, this removes the damaged part of your bowel. This can include parts of your small intestine, large intestine, and your rectum.
- Strictureplasty – This shortens and widens your intestine without removing any part of it. It reduces the effects of scarring caused by Crohn’s disease
5. There Are Different Types of Crohn’s Disease
The type of Crohn’s disease you have depends on the area in your GI tract that is affected.
- Ileocolitis – This is when Crohn’s affects the end of your small intestine and a portion of your large intestine. It is the most common type of Crohn’s. Its symptoms may include diarrhea, cramping, pain in the middle to lower right of your abdomen, and weight loss.
- Ileitis – This type only affects the end of your small intestine. Symptoms are essentially the same as Ileocolitis symptoms, but in more severe cases it can also cause fistulas or an abscess in your right lower abdomen.
- Gastroduodenal Crohn’s – With this type, your stomach is affected, along with the beginning of the small intestine. You can experience nausea, vomiting, weight loss, or loss of appetite.
- Jejunoileitis – This is when a small patch of inflammation occurs in the upper part of your small intestine. Inflammation can cause abdominal pain after eating, diarrhea, and fistulas.
- Crohn’s colitis – When your colon is the only area affected, it’s classified as Crohn’s colitis. Symptoms can include rectal bleeding, abscess and ulcers around the anus, skin lesions, and joint pain.
Living with Crohn’s Disease
We know a Crohn’s diagnosis can be overwhelming and frustrating. It comes with the need to significantly change your life to fit your condition. It also means you need to be constantly on top of your health. Your health insurance needs to cover all of the new care you’ll be receiving, and the supplies you’ll need to adjust to your symptoms.
EZ.Insure can help you get the coverage you need. Our licensed agents work with the top-rated insurance companies across the nation to compare the best rates for your budget and specific needs. We offer free quotes and help with no obligation. Simply enter your zip code into the bar above or call an agent directly at 888-350-1890.
Co-written by Brianna Hartnett