WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Crohn's disease is a long-term disease of the gastrointestinal (GI) system. This system may also be called the digestive system. The GI system includes the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small and large intestines, and anus (rear end). Crohn's disease causes the lining of the intestines to become reddened, swollen, or bleed. With Crohn's disease, you may have abdominal (stomach) pain or blood in your bowel movements (BMs) that can cause anemia (low blood iron). Children with Crohn's disease may grow more slowly and not get as tall as other children. You may have a fever, loose BMs, or lose weight without trying.
Caregivers do not exactly know what causes Crohn's disease. Possible causes are a weakened immune system or having a family member with the disease. Smoking may increase your risk of having Crohn's disease. Treatment for Crohn's disease may include medicine, diet changes, or surgery.
AFTER YOU LEAVE:
Take your medicine as directed.
Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Ask for information about where and when to go for follow-up visits:
For continuing care, treatments, or home services, ask for more information.
- Record in a diary the number of bowel movements (BMs) you have each day and describe the color and form (liquid, soft, or hard). Write in your diary if you saw blood in your BM. Bring the diary with you when see your caregiver.
- Write down all the food that you eat. This may show you what foods cause your symptoms to worsen. If you think a food makes you feel worse, do not eat the food for a while. Do not stop eating a certain food unless it has bothered you more than once.
No special diet prevents or treats Crohn's disease. Your symptoms may be worse with dairy products such as milk, alcohol, hot spices, or foods that contain fiber. Keep a diary of everything you eat and drink and if you have any symptoms. This information will help caregivers decide what diet is best for you.
- Do not smoke. Smoking slows healing and harms your body. If you have trouble quitting, ask your caregiver for more information about how to stop smoking.
- Drink 8 to 10 (eight ounce) cups of liquid each day. Follow your caregiver's advice if you must limit the amount of liquid you drink. Do not drink alcohol. Ask your caregiver if you should decrease the number of dairy products that you each day. Dairy products include milk, yogurt, cheese, and cream-based sauces. Dairy products may cause GI symptoms, such as abdominal cramping and diarrhea.
- Talk to your caregiver about developing an exercise program with you. Exercise helps your bowels work more regularly. It also helps make the heart stronger, lowers blood pressure, and keeps you healthy.
- Stress may slow healing and cause illness later. Since it is hard to avoid stress, learn to control it. Learn new ways to relax (deep breathing, relaxing muscles, meditation, or biofeedback). Talk to your friends, family, and your caregiver about things that upset you.
Where can I find support and more information?
Crohn's disease is a life-changing illness for you and your family. Accepting that you have Crohn's disease may be hard. You and those around you may feel scared, confused and anxious. These feelings are normal. Talk to your caregiver, family, or friends about your feelings. You may also want to join a support group with other people who have Crohn's disease. Contact the following for more information:
- National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC)
2 Information Way
Bethesda , MD 20892-3570
Phone: 1- 800 - 891-5389
Web Address: www.digestive.niddk.nih.gov
- Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America, Inc.
386 Park Avenue S, 17th Floor
New York , NY 10016-8004
Phone: 1- 800 - 932-2423
Web Address: http://www.ccfa.org
CONTACT A CAREGIVER IF:
- You have a fever.
- You have chills, a cough, or feel weak and achy.
- The pain in your abdomen does not go away or gets worse after taking your medicine.
- Your abdomen is swollen or is getting larger.
- Your losing weight without trying.
- You have questions or concerns about Crohn's disease, your treatment, or medicine.
SEEK CARE IMMEDIATELY IF:
- You have trouble breathing all of a sudden.
- You have vomited blood or your vomit looks like coffee grounds.
- You have a fast heart rate, fast breathing, or are too dizzy to stand up.
- You have severe pain in your stomach.
- You have tar-colored (black) BMs or you see blood in your BMs
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.