Overview of Crohn’s Disease
Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory condition of the stomach. This long-term disease causes inflammation of the digestive tract, and it is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). This is a painful and debilitating condition that can sometimes even prove to be life-threatening if left untreated.(1)
Crohn’s disease can affect any part of your gut, right from the mouth all the way down to the anus. In most of the cases, though, the lower part of the small intestine gets affected.
Symptoms of Crohn’s are unpleasant and include discomfort, pain, and intestinal ulcers.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Crohn’s disease affects 26-199 people per 100,000.(2) There is also no particular age at which the disease begins. It can start at any age though it typically starts between the ages of 15 to 40.
The inflammation caused by this disease usually spreads deep inside the layers of the affected bowel tissue, causing severe pain. There is no cure for Crohn’s disease, but treatment helps reduce the signs and symptoms and also helps you achieve long-term remission. With treatment, it has been observed that many people with Crohn’s disease go on to live healthy and well-rounded lives.
Some of the common signs and symptoms of Crohn’s disease during flare-ups include:(3)
- Abdominal cramping and pain
- Bloody stools
- Mouth sores
- Pain or drainage near the anus due to inflammation
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Inflammation of skin, joints, and eyes
- Inflammation of the bile or liver ducts
How To Calm Down An Angry Stomach When You Have Crohn’s!
Let us look at some ways in which we can calm down an angry stomach when you have Crohn’s.
Become an Expert on Crohn’s Disease
The first thing you need to do if you want to get ahead of your disease is to learn all you can about the condition. This includes finding out the following:
- What causes it
- What are your triggers
- Which treatment is the best for you
- What’s the latest about Crohn’s and the medications that ease it
- The warning symptoms of a flare-up
- How to help prevent a flare-up
Control the Diarrhea
Diarrhea is one of the most inconvenient and severe symptoms to deal with when you have Crohn’s. In fact, the symptom of diarrhea is what comes in the way of you trying to live a normal life with Crohn’s. Furthermore, if not treated, diarrhea can cause more severe complications.
This is why it is important to address the problem of diarrhea by taking an anti-diarrheal medication. There are many types of over-the-counter medicines available today that help eases the symptoms of diarrhea, bloating, or gas. These include:
- Loperamide (brand name: Modium A-D)
- Psyllium (brand name: Metamucil)
- Methylcellulose (brand name: Citrucel)
- Bismuth-subsalicylate (brand name: Pepto-Bismol)
However, when you have Crohn’s, it is essential to consult your doctor before you take any over-the-counter medication for calming your stomach. This is because your symptoms might be an indication of a worsening of the inflammation, and your doctor would want to know so that they can make any changes to your prescribed medication if required.
Another uncomfortable symptom of Crohn’s is abdominal cramping and pain. Your doctor is likely to recommend that you take acetaminophen (brand name: Tylenol) if you are experiencing stomach pain along with joint pain.
Make sure that you do not take any non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for Crohn’s associated stomach pain. Medicines such as ibuprofen (brand name: Advil and Motrin IB) and naproxen (brand name: Naprosyn and Aleve) come under NSAIDs.
You are warned against taking NSAIDs because while they will definitely help with your pain, they are going to cause irritation to the gastrointestinal tract and worsen your Crohn’s symptoms.
Identify Food Triggers
You may find that some of your favorite foods actually trigger a flare-up of your Crohn’s symptoms. There are certain foods and beverages that make your symptoms worse. While there is no reliable evidence to show that a specific food or drink is responsible for making the inflammation worse, but with time, you may find that eating some foods make you feel worse, while others make you feel better.
You should try to keep track of which foods aggravate your symptoms by maintaining a food diary. A few foods, especially, you should pay close attention to. These include:
- Dairy products
- Fatty and oily foods
- Spicy foods
- Raw fruits and vegetables
- High fiber foods such as popcorn, beans, and nuts
It is better to stick to bland foods that do not affect the intestinal lining. This is especially recommended if you are experiencing abdominal pain and cramping. These foods can include:
- Dry toast
- Boiled and skinless chicken
Apart from following these dietary recommendations, you should also try to avoid eating three big meals in a day. Opt for having five or six smaller meals instead spaced out evenly throughout the day. This will not only ensure that your body is getting the nutrients and calories it is supposed to be getting, but at the same time, you will not be putting any unnecessary strain on your stomach. Your stomach will also have an easier time digesting and absorbing these smaller meals.
Try Out An Herbal Remedy
Many people with Crohn’s find that along with their conventional treatment, trying out an herbal remedy helps them calm the stomach. After all, there are many herbs that are known to specifically help the stomach. Even though there is not much evidence to show the efficacy of these herbs in helping with Crohn’s disease, but these herbs are known for reducing inflammation in the intestinal tract.
Herbs and herbal teas also have fewer side effects as compared to the medications you might be taking for Crohn’s, but some herbs can interact with other herbs or with your medicine. This is why it is necessary to speak with your doctor before you start taking any herbs and supplements.
Some of the herbal remedies that can help calm your stomach with Crohn’s include:
Ginger is a commonly used remedy for treating many stomach related issues. The rhizome of the ginger plant is frequently used in cooking, but it is also used as a dietary supplement for treating nausea and vomiting. Ginger is a powerful antioxidant and an anti-inflammatory agent. (4) Ginger is available easily in many forms, such as dried, pickled, preserved, candied, powdered, crystallized, and of course, it gives the best results when you have it fresh.
Turmeric is a spice that is known to have a wide variety of health benefits. Curcumin is a compound found in turmeric that is believed to have very potent anti-inflammatory properties and is useful in the treatment of Crohn’s disease.
Many clinical studies(5) involving patients of Crohn’s disease and other inflammatory diseases have found promising results with the use of turmeric, but further, a more in-depth research is still needed.
You can find fresh turmeric in any grocery store, and it is also available as a powder which you can add to your meals. Turmeric supplements in capsule form can also be found.
Peppermint has beneficial effects in calming the muscles of your stomach. There is some evidence that shows that peppermint can soothe inflammatory pain in the intestinal tract, making it ideal for people with Crohn’s disease.(6)
It is easy to find peppermint in tea or capsule form, or you can even use the herb directly in your salads and smoothies.
No matter what tips you want to follow to calm your stomach and get relief from Crohn’s symptoms, it is very important that you keep discussing the steps with your doctor. Do not do anything without your doctor’s recommendation. Your doctor will also want to continue monitoring your symptoms to make sure that your ongoing treatment is working.
If you find your stomach pain and diarrhea becoming worse, you should inform your doctor at once as if left untreated, diarrhea can lead to dehydration and can even become a life-threatening situation.
- Crohn’s and Colitis. (2019). Learn the Facts About Crohn’s Disease. [online] Available at: https://www.crohnsandcolitis.com/crohns [Accessed 1 Sep. 2019].
- Cdc.gov. (2019). CDC – Epidemiology of the IBD – Inflammatory Bowel Disease. [online] Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/ibd/ibd-epidemiology.htm [Accessed 1 Sep. 2019].
- Crohn’s and Colitis. (2019). Learn About the Common Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease. [online] Available at: https://www.crohnsandcolitis.com/crohns/disease-symptoms [Accessed 1 Sep. 2019].
- Bode, A.M. and Dong, Z., 2011. The amazing and mighty ginger. Herbal medicine: Biomolecular and clinical aspects, 2.
- Altmedrev.com. (2019). [online] Available at: http://www.altmedrev.com/publications/16/2/152.pdf [Accessed 1 Sep. 2019].
- ScienceDaily. (2019). How peppermint helps to relieve irritable bowel syndrome. [online] Available at: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110419101234.htm [Accessed 1 Sep. 2019].
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