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Crohn's Disease: 54 Tips to Help You Manage

With the right treatment, you can manage your Crohn's disease symptoms. These simple tips can help.
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WebMD Feature

Crohn's disease, an inflammatory bowel disease affecting 500,000 Americans, can overwhelm your daily life. Day-to-day living is especially difficult if you suffer chronic symptoms like frequent diarrhea, gastrointestinal bleeding, anal tears, or bowel obstructions.

Fortunately, treatments for Crohn's disease can make a big difference. Effective treatments range from lifestyle changes to medications, or even surgery in severe cases. The right treatments can reduce symptoms, lengthen remissions, and help you enjoy a happy, productive life.

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The BRAT Diet

The BRAT diet (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast) was once a staple of most pediatricians' recommendations for children with an upset stomach. The idea was that it gave the gut a chance to rest and reduced the amount of stool produced. Now experts say the BRAT diet may not be the best option for children. Because BRAT diet foods are low in fiber, protein, and fat, the diet lacks enough nutrition to help a child's gastrointestinal tract recover. The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends that...

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To get a handle on your Crohn's disease, read these basic facts and tips on nutrition, lifestyle, travel, and treatment.

Fast Facts About Crohn's Disease

  • Crohn's disease is a chronic inflammation of the digestive tract -- usually the small intestine and/or colon.
  • No one knows what causes Crohn's, but some think it's affected by genetics, the immune system, and environmental issues.
  • There are four types of Crohn's; your doctor will diagnose which you have based on the location and severity of the disease.
  • New research shows that certain genes can lead to an increased risk of Crohn's disease.
  • Remission of Crohn's can last from months to years. Treatment is usually the cause of remissions.
  • There's no evidence that irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) eventually leads to Crohn's disease.

Crohn's Disease Symptom Tips

  • Fever and night sweats can be Crohn's symptoms. Talk with your doctor to be sure.
  • Common symptoms of Crohn's disease include abdominal pain, diarrhea, and weight loss.
  • Don't feel much like eating? Poor appetite can be a Crohn's disease symptom. Talk with your doctor.
  • Symptoms of Crohn's disease can come and go. Some people have mild or no symptoms.
  • Get a balanced amount of proteins, calories, and nutrients to help manage Crohn's disease symptoms.
  • Experiencing cramps or diarrhea? Anti-diarrheal agents and anti-spasmotics can offer relief.

Treatment Tips for Crohn's Disease

  • Your Crohn's disease treatment choices depend on the location and severity of your disease.
  • When Crohn's disease goes into remission, it's usually due to treatment with medication or surgery.
  • Treatment for Crohn's disease includes anti-inflammatory drugs, antibiotics, and/or surgery.
  • Know what's in your medicine cabinet: Aspirin can worsen the inflammation caused by Crohn's disease.
  • Some antibiotics can reduce Crohn's inflammation, though no one yet knows how.
  • Corticosteroids, a treatment for Crohn's, can raise your osteoporosis risks. Talk to your doctor about prevention.

Lifestyle Tips: Living Better When You Have Crohn's

  • Appetite a little low? Try eating small, frequent meals, instead of a few big ones.
  • When you enjoy a great restaurant meal without irritation or side effects, jot down which items you ordered.
  • Manage symptoms of Crohn's disease: enjoy a balanced diet and proper portion control.
  • Smoking can make Crohn's disease symptoms worse. Now is a good time to quit!
  • Feeling fatigued? Enjoy regular exercise, a healthy diet, and enough sleep. And talk to your doctor.
  • Taking antibiotics for Crohn's disease symptoms? Avoid alcohol, which can worsen some side effects.

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