Crohn’s disease is an Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) that can affect anywhere along the gastrointestinal tract – from “gums to bums”. Many people have non-specific symptoms that affect them for a long time prior to diagnosis, and only afterward are they connected to Crohn’s as part of the disease process. These often include:
- Mouth sores and ulcerations
- Frequent upset stomach
- Loose stool or diarrhea
- Eye irritation
- Non-specific joint pain (especially of the hips)
- Poor appetite and weight loss
During an acute Crohn’s attack bowel movements can be painful and urgent. A person can experience 8-12 bowel movements in a day and these often have blood in them. This is considered a red flag and should be assessed by colonoscopy asap. An acute attack typically requires pharmaceutical intervention to stop the cycle of inflammation and injury to the GI tract.
In sub-acute Crohn’s disease patients often have bowel frequency (up to 5-8 BM daily) and urgency, but there is rarely blood in the stool that can be seen without special testing. In this state symptoms can often be resolved with diet changes and supplementation directed at improving the immune response and repairing the lining of the GI tract.
There are various tests that can be used in addition to colonoscopy, or after endoscopic confirmation of the disease, to assess the level of inflammation and monitor disease state in Crohn’s. These include:
- Thorough assessment of the microbiome of the Colon via stool tests such as Genova’s GI Effects (https://www.gdx.net/product/gi-effects-comprehensive-stool-test)
- Fecal calprotectin – marker for disease activity
- Fecal lactoferrin – marker for disease activity
- Blood tests including
- CRP – generalized inflammation marker
- Hematology – to assess for anemia and immune cell numbers
Crohn’s disease is highly affected by diet and stress. It is incredibly important for anyone who has, or suspects, this diagnosis to reduce trigger foods in their diet and manage stress appropriately. Trigger foods can be unique to each person, however studies have been done on various diets that show improved symptoms and GI health with elimination of the most inflammatory foods.
For a personalized approach to diet and wellness, as well as specific assessment of your gastrointestinal health please book a consult.