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What is Crohn’s Disease and Colitis?

Dec 06, 2023

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What is Crohn’s Disease and Colitis?

Published by Claudia Giunta.

Over half a million people in the U.S. live with Crohn’s disease, and 600,000-900,000 people in the U.S. have ulcerative colitis. Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is an umbrella term for disorders that involve chronic gastrointestinal (GI) tract inflammation. Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis inflame the lining of the GI tract, preventing the body from properly digesting food, absorbing nutrition, and eliminating waste effectively. Inflammatory bowel disease can be a mild issue for some people, and for others, it can be drastically uncomfortable and can lead to life-threatening complications. People with Crohn’s or colitis may experience acute periods of active symptoms (active disease or flare), or periods when their symptoms are absent (remission). 

Nova Vita Solutions

Your gut health has a large impact on your body’s many systems, and improving your gut health can have profound effects on your whole-body health and wellness. Gut health goes beyond digestion and nutrient absorption; it’s also essential for the proper function of the body’s central nervous system. Nova Vita Wellness Centers have a variety of IV Vitamin Infusions which contain many beneficial ingredients for your gut health. Our Defense infusion contains Vitamin C, Zinc, B-complex vitamins, and Glutathione, all of which can help provide relief from poor gut health symptoms. Additionally, the nutrients are 100% bioavailable, so there is less worry about not absorbing the supplements you are taking. 

What is Crohn’s Disease?

Crohn’s disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease that causes inflammation anywhere in the gastrointestinal tract from the mouth to the anus but is usually located in the lower part of the small bowel and the upper colon. This inflammation can cause redness, swelling, irritation, and pain. Patches of inflammation can spread throughout the gut and penetrate the intestinal layers. Crohn’s disease can also affect the mesentery, the network of tissue that holds the small bowel to the abdomen and contains the main intestinal blood vessels and lymph glands. 

Symptoms of Crohn's Disease

The symptoms of Crohn’s disease will vary from person to person, ranging from mild to severe. The symptoms will depend on where inflammation arises in the gut; there may be times when someone with Crohn’s has little to no symptoms. As a result of the body’s inability to absorb nutrients, the most common symptoms during a flare include: 

  • Abdominal pain
  • Frequent diarrhea and need to use the bathroom
  • Loss of appetite (can lead to weight loss)
  • Anemia (reduced level of blood cells)
  • Fatigue 
  • Increase in body temperature

Diagnosis of Crohn’s Disease

Crohn’s disease symptoms may be confused with several other conditions, so it’s important to see a doctor who will conduct several tests needed to diagnose. Tests for diagnosis may include blood tests, stool tests, endoscopy, and bowel scans. Crohn’s disease will change over time and these tests will help monitor the disease and its complications, and assess the reliability of current treatments. 

Crohn’s Disease Treatment

While there is no cure for Crohn’s disease, many people can manage their condition through medications, lifestyle choices, and in some cases, surgery. Certain medications can reduce inflammation caused by Crohn’s disease, including aminosalicylates, corticosteroids, immunomodulators, and antibiotics.  

Diet can play an important role in managing Crohn’s disease symptoms, treating the active disease, and ensuring nutritional efficiency. Talk to your doctor about a Crohn’s disease exclusion diet and how you can best manage your nutrition intake. It’s typically recommended that people with Crohn’s diet eat a high-energy and protein, a low-fiber diet, and regularly take oral supplements. 

Surgery for Crohn’s disease is only necessary when certain parts of the bowel are damaged and cannot be treated with medication. Common types of surgery include stricturoplasty, fistulotomy, bowel resection, colectomy, and proctocolectomy. Surgery is aimed at treating symptoms and minimizing risks of further complications from the recurrent disease. 

What is Colitis? 

Ulcerative colitis is a type of IBD that can cause inflammation and ulceration in the colon (large intestine), including the rectum and anus. Typically, the disease will start at the rectum and work its way up through the colon. Ulcers may develop on the surface of the intestines’ inner lining which may lead to bleeding and mucus buildup. 

Symptoms of Colitis

Colitis symptoms will depend on how much of the large intestine is inflamed and how severe the inflammation is. The most common symptoms during a flare include:

  • Abdominal pain and cramps
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Mild fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss 
  • Anemia 

Diagnosis of Ulcerative Colitis 

A doctor may perform several tests to determine if you have colitis. Your doctor will want to rule out an infection or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Tests may include blood tests, stool tests, endoscopy, and bowel scans.  If you have had colitis symptoms for at least 8 years, your doctor may recommend you get a colonoscopy every 1-3 years. 

Colitis Treatment

Like Crohn’s disease, colitis cannot be cured but can be well managed through medications, lifestyle choices, and, in certain cases, surgery. While experiencing remission, you may still experience symptoms and treatment will change over time. Medications for colitis that are used to reduce inflammation include aminosalicylates, corticosteroids, immunomodulators, and thalidomide. 

People with colitis should also eat a low or moderate FODMAP diet and a high-energy and protein diet. Surgery for colitis is not always necessary, but it may be suggested when current therapies are no longer effective or complications continue to occur. The two most common types of surgery for colitis are ileostomies and pouch surgery. 

Living with Crohn’s Disease and Colitis

If you are living with Crohn’s disease or colitis, you’ll want to make certain lifestyle changes, such as changing your diet, increasing your supplement intake, and regularly getting certain tests done. By surrounding yourself with the right resources and taking control of your health, you can accomplish your wellness goals. One of the best ways to be more in control is to learn as much as possible about IBS. Consider joining a support group to connect with others about Crohn’s disease and colitis. And, as always, Nova Vita is here to help you best navigate your health.