Crohn’s Disease Management: How to Calm Down an Angry Stomach
Treating or managing Crohn’s disease doesn’t involve a one-size-fits-all approach. You likely need to try out different solutions to find what works best for you. Always speak with your doctor before taking any over-the-counter drugs or beginning a new exercise program.
Take an anti-diarrheal medication
Diarrhea can be one of the most inconvenient symptoms to deal with as you try to live a normal life with Crohn’s disease. And it can also lead to further health consequences if not treated.
Several over-the-counter medications can help ease symptoms of diarrhea, gas, or bloating:
- loperamide (Imodium A-D)
- bismuth-subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol)
- psyllium (Metamucil)
- methylcellulose (Citrucel)
Before you take an over-the-counter medication to calm down your stomach, check in with your doctor. Your symptoms may suggest a worsening of your inflammation. Your doctor may want to make a change to your prescription medication.
Ask your doctor about pain relievers
Your doctor may recommend taking acetaminophen (Tylenol) if your stomach pain comes along with joint pain.
Don’t take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for stomach pain. This includes ibuprofen (Motrin IB, Advil) and naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn). While NSAIDs might help relieve some joint pain, they can irritate your gastrointestinal tract, worsening your symptoms.
Avoid certain foods
You may have to give up some of your favorite foods in order to stay healthy. Certain foods and beverages can worsen your symptoms. While there’s no concrete evidence that a particular food is responsible for the inflammation associated with Crohn’s disease, you know your body best.
If you haven’t started one already, consider creating a food diary to keep track of which foods aggravate your symptoms. A few foods in particular you’ll want to pay attention to. If you find out that these types of food make your stomach angry, it’s probably best to avoid them altogether:
- dairy products
- fatty foods
- high-fiber foods, such as beans, popcorn, nuts
- raw fruits and vegetables (have them cooked instead)
- spicy foods
Stick to bland foods
If you’re experiencing stomach pain, stick to bland foods, such as the following:
- dry toast
- boiled, skinless chicken
Eat small, frequent meals
Eat five or six small meals throughout the day rather than two or three large ones. This ensures that your body gets enough nutrients and calories for the day without putting unnecessary strain on your stomach.
Try an herbal remedy
Certain herbs may help calm your stomach. While there isn’t a lot of evidence for the efficacy of these herbs in treating Crohn’s disease, they have been used traditionally to lessen inflammation inside the digestive tract.
Herbs and herbal teas may have side effects, and some herbs interact with others. Speak with your doctor about taking herbs and supplements.
The rhizome of the ginger plant is commonly used in cooking. But it’s also a dietary supplement to treat nausea and vomiting. Ginger is also believed to be an antioxidant and an anti-inflammatory agentTrusted Source. It’s available in many forms, including fresh, dried, pickled, preserved, crystallized, candied, and powdered.
Turmeric is a spice related to ginger. A compound found in turmeric called curcumin is thought to have anti-inflammatory properties and may be useful in treating Crohn’s disease. Small clinical studies of people with Crohn’s disease and other inflammatory conditions have shown promising results, but additional studies are needed.
You can find fresh turmeric in your grocery store. It’s also available as a powder that you can add to your meals, or in capsule form.
Peppermint calms the muscles of your stomach and has shown evidence of soothing inflammatory pain in the gastrointestinal tract. Peppermint is easy to find in tea or capsule form.
The bark of the slippery elm tree is a demulcent — a substance that protects inflamed tissues. When the bark is mixed with water, it turns into a sticky material known as mucilage. Mucilage coats and soothes your stomach and intestines. One study found that slippery elm had an antioxidant effect in people with Crohn’s disease.
To make tea from powdered slippery elm bark, pour 2 cups of boiling water over roughly 2 tablespoons of the powder and steep for a few minutes. Slippery elm is also available as a lozenge or in capsule form.
Marshmallow (the herb, not the sticky sweet confection) has been studied for its ability to protect and soothe tissues in the stomach and reduce inflammation and stomach acids. To make a tea, steep 2 to 5 grams of dried leaf or 5 grams of dried root in 1 cup of hot water.
The acids produced by the Boswellia genus of trees are thought to have therapeutic capabilities. In a small studyTrusted Source in people with ulcerative colitis, 14 of 20 participants who received boswellia gum resin achieved remission of their disease. Another studyTrusted Source, conducted in 2001, found that boswellia was just as effective as mesalazine, a standard Crohn’s disease treatment, in treating 102 participants with Crohn’s disease.
If solid foods aggravate your stomach, juicing is a great way to get the nutrients and calories your body needs without adding stress to the digestive process. You can combine herbal remedies, like ginger, with a variety of fruits and vegetables. Start with a simple recipe of just one apple, one carrot, and a small piece of ginger. Because the juicing process removes fiber, the nutrients can be easily absorbed.
A Balanced Belly has some tips and tricks for juicing as well as a range of healthy juice recipes for people with Crohn’s disease.
Find ways to reduce stress
Your stomach might be feeling angry because you’re under a lot of stress. Try the following techniques to help you relax and reduce your stress levels:
- tai chi
- deep breathing exercises
You can set aside a specific time each day to practice, or try these techniques simultaneously while you’re doing something else, like commuting to work.
Exercise is also a great way to lower your stress levels. Even low-intensity exercises, like walking for 30 minutes, can be helpful. However, make sure to ask your doctor before starting a new exercise program. Also remember to drink extra water before and during exercise to prevent dehydration.
See your doctor
Your relationship with your doctor is very important in managing Crohn’s disease. Your doctor will likely want to monitor your symptoms to make sure your treatment is working. It’s very important that you are open and honest with your doctor about your symptoms. If your stomach pain and diarrhea become severe, let your doctor know right away. You might need intravenous fluids to prevent dehydration.
CROHN’S & COLITIS AWARENESS
An Invisable Disease
Crohn’s and colitis are considered invisible illnesses because the diseases aren’t visible on the outside. So, while someone may look fine, their intestines may be inflamed and ulcerated, they may be in excruciating pain, and their immune system is essentially attacking itself.
Because Crohn’s and Colitis are invisible disabilities, some passengers may feel that they will be judged by asking a member of staff for help or having to spend time trying to explain their symptoms.
Imagine suffering from debilitating chronic pain. Every step you take causes discomfort, and it’s perpetually at the forefront of your mind. The internal battle you’re fighting takes mental and physical energy and just going through daily tasks can be debilitating. However, those looking at you may have no indication you’re suffering, let alone that you have a chronic disease. You suffer from an invisible illness.
WHAT IS AN INVISIBLE ILLNESS?
An invisible illness is one that does not exhibit externally visible signs or symptoms. Those with invisible illnesses and disabilities may have symptoms such as pain, fatigue, dizziness, weakness, or mental health disorders. Many of these conditions deeply impact the people suffering, but show no obvious signs to an outside observer.
By 2020, the US Department of Health and Human Services estimates that 157 million Americans will be afflicted with a chronic illness and the US Census Bureau estimates 96% of chronic illnesses are invisible. Invisible illnesses disproportionately impact women and many are not yet well understood by health care providers or the general public. This lack of understanding inevitably contributes to feelings of isolation and hopelessness for those suffering from such conditions.
CHALLENGES OF LIVING WITH AN INVISIBLE ILLNESS
In addition to the various symptoms of a chronic and invisible illness, people suffering from these illnesses can also experience frustration, guilt, exhaustion, and embarrassment.
For those diagnosed with an illness at a young age, the common stereotype that younger populations are supposed to be healthy makes it especially difficult. For those diagnosed later in life, many feel guilty they are unable to more actively participate in the lives of their families and be active with their children and grandchildren.
Invisible illnesses impact people in all aspects of their lives, personally and professionally. They can severely impact the ability to routinely work and may lead to social isolation and depression.
Nearly all of those experiencing an invisible illness have to deal with common misconceptions regarding their condition. Here are just a few of those most frequently dealt with.
- The way a person looks reflects how they’re feeling physically. Someone may look healthy, but that doesn’t mean they are.
- Invisible illnesses are ‘all in the person’s head.’ Keeping stress at a minimum may reduce symptoms of a chronic illness, but it doesn’t mean the root cause of the disease is psychological.
- Resting up will make people feel better. Just as people not suffering from chronic or invisible illness are unable to bank sleep (rest for a long period of time in order to recoup or “make-up” sleep or to expend extra energy), neither are those with chronic illnesses. The same amount of rest leading up to different events, on different days, may not yield the same results, as symptoms ebb and flow, often unpredictably.
- If a person suffering from a chronic illness is enjoying themselves, they must feel ok. Don’t assume a person who’s enjoying themselves, laughing, and participating in activities is symptom-free. Many people have learned to cope with their symptoms to participate in important events and activities, but that does not mean they are feeling well.
- Stress reduction techniques are a cure for chronic pain and illness. While these techniques may assist with symptom relief, they are not a cure-all.
- Being home all day is a dream lifestyle. Being home all day, but in constant pain and suffering from an invisible illness does not make for a dream lifestyle, regardless of location. Many people are often couch-bound or bed-bound due to extreme pain. They also experience boredom, as not being able to actively participate in the world around them can be frustrating and disappointing.
- Those in chronic pain are ‘drug seekers’. People in chronic pain are often misunderstood and mistreated by the medical community. They get labeled as “drug seekers” in emergency rooms and, as a result, are denied much-needed pain medication.
HOW TO SUPPORT OTHERS WITH INVISIBLE ILLNESSES
If you know someone with an invisible illness, there are several things you can do to support them. It’s important to remember everyone wants to enjoy life and no one wants to be a burden; however, people suffering from chronic and invisible illnesses do appreciate your support and understanding.
- Accept you are powerless to make them better. Your love and understanding are what they need.
- Take time to talk to them and learn about their illness. Ask questions about symptoms and treatments, and be patient. The more you learn, the better you’ll be able to understand and show empathy.
- Be with them when they need it and give them space when they want it. Many chronic illnesses become socially isolating, as people are house-bound or lose companions due to the lack of understanding around invisible illnesses. Being around and access may be one of the best support methods available.
- Try not to get frustrated. One of the biggest challenges associated with invisible illnesses is you get sick and then you continue to get sick, the cycle does not stop. At times, this may get frustrating to caregivers and it’s important for them to realize it’s normal for people suffering this way to be emotionally needy, distant, angry, or sad.
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Crohns Disease and bad weather
We know that Crohn’s disease can equal big gastrointestinal problems, but we don’t fully know what causes this condition. Genetics and the environment are thought to play roles, along with your body’s unique response to bacteria in your intestines. Another theory is a possible link between Crohn’s and the weather or climate where you live.
Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital, who collected information on 175,912 women 15 to 30 years old, found that the incidence of Crohn’s disease increased significantly among those living in more northern latitudes. This was especially true for women in the older age range.
Experts aren’t sure what it is about Crohn’s and weather that could cause more cases up north, but one possible explanation is that there’s less sunlight or UVB radiation exposure in these areas, which in turn means that your body makes less vitamin D and doesn’t get as strong an immunity boost as it does in sunnier climes.
Another theory relates to health issues delineated by geography. “Generally areas farther from the equator are more developed countries, with lower incidences of gastrointestinal infections and parasites,” says Ghassan T. Wahbeh, MD, director of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Program at Seattle Children’s Hospital and an associate professor of pediatrics and gastroenterology at the University of Washington School of Medicine. The theory is that in warmer areas closer to the equator, exposure to common GI bugs may mean the immune system is better able to fight off Crohn’s, “ in contrast to the unexposed gut immune system in cleaner environments,” he says.
Crohn’s and Weather: Putting the Forecast in Your Favor
Just as there’s no “one size fits all” nutrition plan for managing Crohn’s, there’s no ideal Crohn’s climate or geographic region that can rule out Crohn’s flares for everyone. Visit the online Crohn’s Forum, for example, and you’ll see that people’s experiences vary wildly, with some describing worse symptoms in winter and others saying summer heat causes them problems.
Individual experiences aside, however, there are some important warm weather Crohn’s tips to keep in mind, whether you live in the sun year-round or are planning a vacation escape.
“Staying in warmer climates mandates proper hydration, more so for patients with active disease and symptoms who are at risk of dehydration,” says Dr. Wahbeh. Kidney stones can also be a concern for people with inflammatory bowel disease and another reason to stay on top of your beverage consumption. On average, you should be drinking 80 or more ounces every day to stay hydrated.
Keep in mind that whether you’re experiencing bouts of diarrhea from Crohn’s disease or excessive sweating because of warm or hot weather, you’ll need to drink more water. Fever and vomiting can also contribute to dehydration. Signs to watch out for include dry mouth or mucous membranes, little or no urine or urine that’s dark yellow in color, a lack of tears, sunken eyes, and lethargy. There’s also the risk for coma in very serious cases.
People with an inflammatory bowel disease also have a greater than normal risk for skin cancer, according to Wahbeh. Experts aren’t certain how much of the risk is due to the disease itself and how much can be attributed to the side effects of the medications used to treat it. However, there’s no doubt that you should religiously apply a broad spectrum sunscreen and double up on sun protection by wearing wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses, and even clothing that can block UVA and UVB rays.
Living with Crohn’s disease has its challenges, but taking into account Crohn’s and weather factors, as well as following warm weather Crohn’s tips, living and playing in hot weather is certainly possible and perhaps even more pleasurable.
Wrap up stay safe and warm its going to be along 2021
all the best
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