Crohn's Disease -
High Fiber and Crohn's

What is Crohn's Disease? Crohn's is the general name for diseases that cause inflammation in the intestines. It may also be called ileitis or enteritis.It usually occurs in the lower part of the small intestine, called the ileum, but it can affect any part of the digestive tract, from the mouth to the anus.

Who is affected?

The disease affects men and women equally and seems to run in some families. About 20 percent of people with Crohn's have a blood relative with some form of irritable bowel disease (IBD), most often a brother or sister and sometimes a parent or child.

What causes Crohn's disease?

Theories are plentiful, but none proven as to what the causes Crohn's disease. The most popular theory is that the body's immune system reacts to a virus or a bacterium by causing ongoing inflammation in the intestine.

There tends to be abnormalities of the immune system in people with Crohn's disease, but doctors do not know whether these abnormalities are a cause or result of the disease. Crohn's disease is not caused by emotional distress.

What are the symptoms and diagnosis

The most common symptoms of Crohn's disease are abdominal pain, often in the lower right area, and diarrhea. Rectal bleeding, weight loss, and fever may be present. Anemia could occur if bleeding is persistent. Children with the disease may suffer delayed development and stunted growth.

Crohn's disease can be difficult to diagnose because its symptoms are similar to other intestinal disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome and ulcerative colitis. Ulcerative colitis causes inflammation and ulcers in the top layer of the lining of the large intestine.

Along with a thorough physical exam, blood tests may be done to check for anemia, which could indicate bleeding in the intestines. The tests may reveal a high white blood cell count, a sign of inflammation.

The doctor can tell if there is bleeding or infection in the intestines by testing a stool sample. An upper gastrointestinal (GI) series and a colonoscopy may be done to look at the small intestine.

If Crohn's disease is detected by these tests, more x rays of both the upper and lower digestive tract may be necessary to see how much is affected by the disease.

What are the complications of Crohn's disease?

The disease tends to thicken the intestinal wall which narrows the passage causing blockage due to swelling and scar tissue. Crohn's disease may also cause ulcers that tunnel through the affected area into surrounding tissues such as the bladder, vagina, or skin. The areas around the anus and rectum are often affected.

The tunnels, called fistulas, are a common complication and often become infected. Sometimes fistulas can be treated with medicine, but in some cases they may require surgery.

Nutritional complications are common in Crohn's disease. Deficiencies of proteins, calories, and vitamins may be caused by inadequate dietary intake, intestinal loss of protein, or poor absorption (malabsorption).

Other complications associated with Crohn's disease include arthritis, skin problems, inflammation in the eyes or mouth, kidney stones, gallstones, or diseases of the liver.

What is the treatment for Crohn's disease?

The goals of treatment are to control inflammation, adjust nutritional deficiencies, and relieve symptoms like abdominal pain, diarrhea, and rectal bleeding. Drugs, nutrition supplements, surgery, or a combination of these options may be viable.

Treatment for Crohn's disease depends on the location and severity of disease, complications, and response to previous treatment. At this time, treatment can help control the disease, but there is no cure. Some people have long periods of remission, sometimes years, when they are free of symptoms. However, the disease usually recurs at various times over a person's lifetime.

This changing pattern of the disease means one cannot always tell when a treatment has helped. Predicting when a remission may occur or when symptoms will return is not possible. Someone with Crohn's disease may need medical care for a long time, with regular doctor visits to monitor the condition. A natural approach

Free radicals - molecules produced during fat metabolism, stress, and infection, among other things - may contribute to inflammation in Crohn's disease. Free radicals sometimes cause cell damage when they interact with other molecules in the body. The mineral zinc removes free radicals from the bloodstream. Studies are under way to determine whether zinc supplementation might reduce inflammation.

Although Crohn's causes and history are still a mystery to us, it is known that certain changes in the diet - namely the addition of high fiber foods can make a big difference in how a person copes with the disease.

Check through our many links on diets, recipes, menus and other stuff to learn how you can benefit from your trip to Fiberland.