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Quiz: How Much Do You Know About Crohn's Disease

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If you have good control of your Crohn's disease, it won't flare up.

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If you have good control of your Crohn's disease, it won't flare up.

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Treatment can help you have fewer Crohn's flares. But even with good control, Crohn's disease is unpredictable. Symptoms may range from mild to severe and may develop slowly or come on suddenly, without warning.

 

You can go through years when symptoms disappear or decrease -- and then have a flare. With treatment and good communication with a doctor, though, most people with Crohn's can have a full and active life.

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If your Crohn's flares, it's because you ate too much fiber.

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If your Crohn's flares, it's because you ate too much fiber.

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There isn't a single type of food that worsens Crohn's symptoms in everyone. Crohn's disease can flare up for no apparent reason. But many people find that certain foods make their symptoms worse and lead to flares.

 

Other triggers include stress, certain medications, smoking, and skipping Crohn’s medications or taking the wrong dose.

Probiotics have been proven to help Crohn's.

Probiotics have been proven to help Crohn's.

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Probiotics are bacteria or yeast that can be found in some supplements or food. Some studies show they may help keep symptoms away in some people. But most studies have not shown a benefit. And side effects of probiotics can include mild bloating or gas. Tell your doctor if you use any complementary or alternative treatments, because they may have an effect on your medication.

Crohn's disease can develop anywhere in your digestive system.

Crohn's disease can develop anywhere in your digestive system.

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Crohn's disease can develop anywhere in the digestive tract, including the esophagus, stomach, and even the mouth. But it usually affects the lower end of the small intestine and the beginning of the large intestine, or colon. This makes it different from ulcerative colitis, which only affects the colon.

 

Your symptoms depend on which part of your digestive tract is affected. Crohn's can also affect other parts of your body, such as skin, eyes, joints, and liver.

People with Crohn's are more likely to be short on vitamin B-12:

People with Crohn's are more likely to be short on vitamin B-12:

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Whether you're short on nutrients and vitamins -- and which ones -- depends largely on where your Crohn's is and how widespread. Vitamin B-12 is absorbed in the lower end of the small intestine. If the disease affects that area, you may not absorb enough B-12 from your diet.

 

Other vitamins and minerals you may be lacking include folic acid, iron, and vitamins C and D. Check with your doctor to see if you need vitamins or other supplements.

When you're having a Crohn's flare, it's probably a good idea to avoid ginger ale.

When you're having a Crohn's flare, it's probably a good idea to avoid ginger ale.

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When you're having a flare, it's a good idea to steer clear of all carbonated drinks, which often cause gas. Beans, cabbage, broccoli, and caffeine are other gas-producers to avoid when flaring. Greasy and fried foods can cause gas or diarrhea. Milk isn’t usually a problem unless you're lactose intolerant. Eating high-fiber foods such as raw vegetables or fruits may be a problem during a flare -- but it's still important to try to eat healthy. So try cooking them well. Eating smaller meals can also help ease symptoms.

Crohn's disease is always inherited.

Crohn's disease is always inherited.

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The exact cause of Crohn's is unknown, but researchers believe that a combination of a person's genes, immune system, and factors in the environment play a role. People with Crohn's may inherit certain genes that cause their immune system to overreact, leading to the chronic inflammation found in Crohn's. About 1 in 5 people with Crohn's has a parent, sibling, or child who also has it.

What can treatment do for your Crohn's?

What can treatment do for your Crohn's?

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There is no cure for Crohn's disease, so the goal of treatment is to reduce the inflammation that triggers your symptoms. This allows tissue in your intestine to heal and relieves symptoms like fever, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.

 

Once you're feeling back to normal, treatment can keep you feeling that way by reducing flares. Your treatment may include medications, surgery, and nutritional supplements.

There isn't much you can do about stress-related flares.

There isn't much you can do about stress-related flares.

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Stress doesn't cause Crohn's. But like people with other chronic conditions, you may find that stressful events or situations make your symptoms worse. Just living with Crohn's can also be stressful. Relaxation and deep breathing, yoga and tai chi, and meditation techniques can help you lower stress before it gets to your gut. Strong social support from family, friends, a support group, or a counselor can help you better manage your day-to-day life with Crohn's.

The longer Crohn's goes uncontrolled, the more likely you are to have complications.

The longer Crohn's goes uncontrolled, the more likely you are to have complications.

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The idea of taking medication for a long time to control Crohn's inflammation may not be appealing. But uncontrolled inflammation increases the risk of scarring in your intestine and other complications. Aggressively treating Crohn's with medications may reduce complications as well as the need for future surgery or hospitalizations.

Which can be a complication of Crohn's disease?

Which can be a complication of Crohn's disease?

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The most common complication of Crohn's disease is intestinal obstruction -- the intestine becomes blocked. This is caused when swelling and scar tissue thicken the intestine wall.

 

Arthritis, eye or mouth inflammation, and kidney stones or gallstones are less common complications.

Crohn's only happens in people who are older than 20:

Crohn's only happens in people who are older than 20:

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Although people can get Crohn's at any age, it usually starts in the teen and early adult years.. About 1 in 4 people with Crohn's get it before the age of 20.

 

In children who develop Crohn's, there is usually a genetic connection. Crohn's can stunt growth or delay puberty in children and teens, but treatment can also be more effective in young people.

If you have Crohn's, chances are eventually you'll need surgery.

If you have Crohn's, chances are eventually you'll need surgery.

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About two-thirds of people with Crohn's disease need surgery to remove part of their intestine at some point. Surgery can help if medications no longer control your symptoms or if you have complications such as intestinal blockage.

 

Crohn's can return after surgery, and sometimes more than one operation is needed. But this may not happen for many years, and during that time, you may be symptom-free.

You're more likely to need surgery for Crohn's if you smoke.

You're more likely to need surgery for Crohn's if you smoke.

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Smoking cigarettes may not only make your Crohn's symptoms worse -- it also makes surgery more likely. People who smoke tend to have more flares, more complications, and need higher doses of steroids and other medications. Quitting can lower your risk of flares and complications. Your doctor can help you find a specialist to help you quit smoking.

Taking medication is the only way to reduce your Crohn's flares.

Taking medication is the only way to reduce your Crohn's flares.

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If you're like most people with Crohn's, you can have a healthy, active lifestyle. In addition to sticking with your medication, regular exercise and a good diet help make that possible.

 

Talk to your doctor or a dietitian about foods to avoid and how to have a nutritious diet without them. Regular exercise helps keep you healthy and can reduce stress and Crohn's complications such as bone thinning.

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Great job! Understanding your Crohn's can help you manage it better.

Not bad, but knowing more about your Crohn's can help you manage it better. Read up and try again.

Understanding Crohn's can help you manage it better. Read up and try again.

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Overcome Setbacks

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