Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease that is known to cause irritation to the lining of the digestive tract. The condition is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and the inflammation caused to your digestive tract can lead to severe diarrhea, abdominal pain, malnutrition, fatigue, weight loss, etc. The inflammation that is caused by this condition is not limited to only one area of the digestive tract and may involve several different areas of the tract. There is no cure for Crohn’s disease and treatment revolves around the management of your symptoms. There is no one single approach to managing or treating Crohn’s disease and you need to come up with the best possible solution along with your doctor. There are many ways in which you can manage your stomach while having Crohn’s disease. Let’s take a look at some of these management techniques.
Managing Your Stomach With Crohn’s
There is no clear evidence on what causes Crohn’s disease. However, it is believed that your immune system, environment, and your genetics have a role to play in this condition. The condition does not affect you all the time. It may automatically go into remission and then suddenly you may experience a flare-up. During flare-ups, it becomes difficult to manage the symptoms as your gastrointestinal tract becomes inflamed causing you to experience frequent or urgent bowel movements, bloody stools, abdominal pain and/or diarrhea. You may also experience a lack of appetite, fatigue, and weight loss.
There is no one approach to dealing with Crohn’s disease and you may need to try out several solutions before you find one that works for you. You should also consult your doctor before you try out any over-the-counter (OTC) medications or before you start a new exercising routine/program.
During a Crohn’s flare-up, it becomes difficult to manage your stomach. Here are some potential solutions you may consider to calm down and manage your symptoms.
Choose your Diet Carefully
When you suffer from Crohn’s disease, you have to be very careful about what you eat and drink. You may also need to give up certain foods in order to stop your symptoms from getting worse. There are many foods and beverages that can worsen your condition or even cause a flare-up.
Keeping a food diary is the best way to keep a track of which foods and drinks worsen your symptoms. There are certain foods that you need to focus on in particular as you will notice that these types of food may aggravate your stomach symptoms. These include:
- Fatty foods
- Dairy products
- Spicy foods
- Fiber-rich foods such as nuts, popcorn, beans
- Raw vegetables and fruits
- It is best to avoid these foods altogether.
If you are having a flare-up or experiencing stomach pain, then you will find that sticking to bland foods will be helpful in managing your stomach. Some bland foods you may try include:
- Dry toast
- Boiled and skinless chicken
Drink Plenty of Water
Crohn’s disease is known to hamper the body’s ability to absorb water from the digestive tract. This can cause dehydration. There is an increased risk of dehydration if you are also having diarrhea or bloody stools. This is why it is very important that you keep drinking water throughout the day.
Opt for Smaller Meals throughout the Day
When your stomach is irritated and your gastrointestinal tract is inflamed, processing food also becomes a big task for your body. This is why it is recommended that you have five or six smaller sized meals during the day as compared to having three big meals. This will ensure that you keep getting sufficient nutrients and calories throughout the day and will also not strain the stomach too much.
Select an Anti-diarrheal Medication
Diarrhea is one of the most inconvenient and disturbing symptoms of Crohn’s disease. It can even prevent you from living a normal life and also cause further health issues if left untreated. There are many OTC medications available that can help provide relief from diarrhea, bloating and even gas. These include:
- bismuth-subsalicylate (brand name: Pepto-Bismol)
- loperamide (brand name: Imodium A-D)
- methylcellulose (brand name: Citrucel)
- psyllium (brand name: Metamucil)
However, before you resort to taking any OTC medications for managing your stomach, you must consult your doctor as the symptom of diarrhea is usually an indication that your inflammation is getting worse. Keeping this in mind, your doctor may want to make certain changes to your prescription. Therefore, always make it a point to inform your doctor about any changes in your symptoms.
Not All Pain Relievers Are For You
Bear in mind that you should never take any medication without consulting your doctor beforehand. Doctor typically recommended that you take a Tylenol (acetaminophen) if you are having too much stomach pain as well as joint pain. However, when you have Crohn’s, you are not supposed to take any NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) for your stomach pain.
NSAIDs include drugs such as ibuprofen (brand name: Advil, Motrin IB) and naproxen (brand name: Naprosyn, Aleve).
The reason people suffering from Crohn’s disease are not supposed NSAIDs is that this category of drugs may cause more irritation to your gastrointestinal tract, thus worsening your symptoms.
Herbs May Help Calm The Stomach
There are many herbal remedies that may help you manage your stomach during a flare-up of Crohn’s disease. While there is not much scientific evidence that shows the efficiency of these herbs, they are being used traditionally for many years now to reduce the inflammation of the digestive tract. While some herbs and even herbal teas may have some side effects, generally most herbs are safe to take. However, do ensure you consult your doctor before you start taking any herbs and supplements. Also keep in mind that some herbs may interact with others, so it is better to do a thorough research before you begin.
Some herbal remedies that are said to be good for calming your stomach include:
Turmeric: Similar to ginger, turmeric is also thought to be highly useful in the treatment of Crohn’s disease. In fact, there have been some clinical trials with turmeric have been conducted on people having Crohn’s disease and other inflammatory diseases, and they have shown promising results. You can either have fresh turmeric or it is also available in the form of supplements.
Peppermint: This popular herb is known to soothe and relax the muscles of your stomach. There is also some evidence available that proves that peppermint is efficient at relieving inflammatory pain in the gastrointestinal tract. You can either take peppermint in the form of tea or it is also available in capsule form.
Consider a Juice Diet
When you are experiencing a flare-up of Crohn’s disease, you may notice that having any type of solid foods irritate your stomach. A good way to solve this issue and also ensure that you consume the required calories and nutrients you require is to switch to the process of juicing. You can start the process with a simple recipe and then move on to include what you like and what you know will not irritate your stomach. Because the process of juicing aids in the removal of fiber, the nutrients end up getting absorbed easily by the body.
While these are some recommendations you can follow, remember that the ultimate word should be that of your doctor. Keep your doctor abreast of any changes in your symptoms or any new developments. If your stomach pain and diarrhea become severe, then you should get yourself to the emergency room without any delay.
- Crohn’s Disease or Terminal Ileitis: Classification & Types, Epidemiology, Causes, Risk Factors, Symptoms, Signs, Treatment, Investigations, Tests