The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report in 2015 that found that 3 million people in the United States had an inflammatory bowel disease — either Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis — which is up by a million people since 1999. Of this number, about a half a million people have Crohn’s disease.
To answer this increasing call, Health First’s Dr. Jonathan Singer specializes in autoimmune disorders, which includes Crohn’s disease. As part of our efforts to find answers for inflammatory bowel diseases, we believe that education is important, which is why we’re presenting the following primer on Crohn’s disease.
Crohn’s disease 101
As we mentioned, Crohn’s disease is an autoimmune disorder, which means the problem stems from a malfunctioning immune system. In the case of Crohn’s disease, portions of the digestive tract, typically the small intestine and/or colon, become diseased and inflamed.
That said, Crohn’s disease can affect any portion of the gastrointestinal tract, from the mouth to the anus.
We can diagnose Crohn’s disease at any age, but most diagnoses occur between the ages of 20 and 30. Furthermore, Crohn’s disease affects both sexes and people of different ethnic backgrounds.
While genetics may play a role in inflammatory bowel disease, as with most autoimmune disorders, the exact cause of the problem is unclear.
The symptoms and complications of Crohn’s disease
Crohn’s disease may not be a constant companion, instead attacking during flare-ups, which can leave you with:
- Persistent diarrhea
- Abdominal cramping
- Rectal bleeding
- Mouth sores
Unfortunately, Crohn’s disease often gets worse over time, which means that the remission periods in between flare-ups can shorten.
While we’ve described some of the more common symptoms you may experience during a flare-up, Crohn’s disease can lead to serious complications, such as intestinal obstructions and anal fissures or fistulas. As well, Crohn’s disease can affect your overall wellness, leaving you underweight, with fatigue and painful joints.
When Crohn’s disease occurs in children, they may experience problems with growth and development because of nutritional problems.
Treating Crohn’s disease
At our practice, we believe that in order to successfully treat autoimmune disorders like Crohn’s disease, we need to approach the problem from several different angles.
We don’t believe using medication that only manages the symptoms is a good solution. Instead, we focus on helping your body to combat the problem through better immune health, which we can achieve through:
- Chelation therapy (detoxing your body of heavy metals)
- Nutrition counseling and elimination diets
- IV nutrient infusions
- Stress reduction
- Lifestyle changes (quitting smoking, for example)
We tailor each treatment plan to your unique needs, but you should expect a combination of therapies for best results.
If you’d like to learn more about Crohn’s disease and how we go about restoring your quality of life, please contact one of our two offices in Denver, Colorado, or Cheyenne, Wyoming.