Everyone deals with unpleasant digestive issues, such as diarrhea and heartburn, at some point in life. But for people with Crohn’s disease, these digestive nightmares become a regular occurrence. In addition to the inconvenience and discomfort, patients can also experience chronic pain. But there are steps you can take to lead a pain-free life with Crohn’s disease.
What is Crohn’s Disease?
Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease caused by an autoimmune disorder. While the mechanism of Crohn’s disease is not entirely understood, the clinical signs and treatment options have been well-documented.
Crohn’s disease can cause ulcers to develop in the colon and/or small intestine. If the small intestine is afflicted, a patient might experience a bowel obstruction. Other symptoms can include fever, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and unintended weight loss.
It can be difficult to diagnose Crohn’s disease. To determine if Crohn’s disease is the problem, your doctor might order diagnostic tests such as a barium enema and X-ray or a colonoscopy. You might also suffer from secondary symptoms, such as reddish skin nodules that might be tender to the touch and inflammation throughout the body, especially in the joints, spine, liver, or eyes. If you experience any of these signs, report them to your doctor, as they might help in diagnosing your condition.
How Can I Avoid Flare-Ups?
Flare-ups can come on suddenly and be excruciatingly painful. When Crohn’s disease flares, common bowel-related symptoms include diarrhea, nausea, abdominal cramping, and aching of the anus and rectum. Other symptoms include joint pain, canker sores, and skin that hurts or burns when touched. With such bothersome symptoms, avoiding flare-ups is a top priority.
Triggers such as smoking tobacco, changing or skipping medications, or consuming foods or beverages that are irritating to the digestive tract often cause flare-ups. These triggers might be easier to control than another common trigger: stress. Stress from work, family life, and dealing with the disease itself can cause or exacerbate flare-ups. Remember to take care of yourself and relieve stress as much as possible with relaxing and enjoyable activities.
How Do I Relieve the Pain?
Crohn’s disease flare-ups can be intense and seem impossible to get rid of, but with the right tools you can find relief from the pain. Flare-ups often pop up unexpectedly. So pack yourself a small care package that you can take with you on the go. Include disposable sanitary wipes, antibacterial cleanser, and over-the-counter anti-diarrhea medication. Acetaminophen is the best choice for a nonprescription pain reliever, as medications like ibuprofen and naproxen can aggravate Crohn’s disease symptoms.
Other products, such as vitamin-enriched ointments and warm salt water, help treat anal itching, fissures, or soreness. Medicinal mouthwash can help relieve tender canker sores. Diarrhea associated with flare-ups can cause dehydration and anti-diarrhea medications can cause a dry mouth. So be sure to pack a small amount of salt, an itch-relieving cream, sanitary cooling wipes, mouthwash, anti-diarrhea medications and bottled water to combat those flare-ups when you’re away from home.
Crohn’s disease is a condition that is worsened by poor self-care. Measures such as eating well, exercising regularly, not smoking, and managing stress can go a long way toward preventing flare-ups. Crohn’s disease doesn’t have to rule your life. By preparing for a Crohn’s disease flare-up and taking care of your body, you can achieve a pain-free life.