Crohn's Disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Many Americans suffer from Crohn's Disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome everyday. These can be very traumatic illnesses that can have an extremely negative impact on a person's daily activities. Although the symptoms are very similar, these two diseases do differ in severity. They can be controlled to some extent with daily medication, but currently there is no cure for either disease.

The cause of Irritable Bowel Syndrome is not known, but it is believed to be due to abnormal gastrointestinal tract movements and a possible change in the communication between the brain and the gastrointestinal system. Some patients also have abnormal movements of the colon which may be either too fast or too slow. It is also believed that IBS may be caused my certain food allergies, though this have yet to be proven. Stress or menstruation may trigger Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms.

The symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome can vary from mild to severe. They may include some or all of the following: abdominal cramps or pain relieved only by bowel movements, alternating from diarrhea to constipation, excessive gas, bloating, passing mucus from the rectum, and abdominal distension.

When these symptoms occur, it is always best to seek professional medical attention to be properly diagnosed. Diagnosis will most likely involve having certain tests taken. These may include a combination of blood work, a CT scan of the intestinal area, or a colonoscopy.

If a positive diagnosis for Irritable Bowel Syndrome is found there is a variety of treatment that can help to lessen the symptoms. Certain medications may be prescribed such as antispasmodics to reduce the spasms of the digestive tract and antidiarrheals to prevent frequent episodes of diarrhea. Sometimes certain antidepressants are also used in treating the symptoms of IBS. A change in your daily diet may also help prevent the reoccurance of IBS symptoms. Adding fiber to your diet and removing dairy products can also help lessen the symptoms. However, a calcium supplement will be needed to replace the calcium that you will no longer be getting due to removing dairy from your diet. Some medications that may be used for treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome include Dicyclomine, Hyoscyamine, Loperamide, Imipramine, Amitriptyline, Nortriptyline, or Desipramine. If symptoms do not subside or improve with the use of these medications doctors may prescribe stronger medications such as Tegaserod or Alosetron.

So, what exactly is Crohn's Disease? It has does have some similar symptoms as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, but unfortunately is more severe and debilitating. Quite simply it is severe inflammation of the digestive tract that is a lifelong illness. Symptoms can be treated to some extent, however, a flare up may occur at any given time in your life without any apparent reason.
The cause of Crohn's disease is also unknown, and not believed to be associated with any particular lifestyle. It is believed that it may be a type of hereditary disease, however this too has not been proven. Stress may or may not trigger Crohn's flare ups. What is known is that it can be a very serious disease that could lead to some life threatening situations if not taken seriously.

Crohn's Disease symptoms may include one or more of the following: diarrhea, abdominal cramps, weight loss, fatigue, pain when having a bowel movement, bloody stools, or rectal bleeding. Inflammation of the digestive tract may also cause painful bleeding ulcers in the tissues of the digestive tract. The main thing to remember is that Crohn's Disease is chronic and it will not go away. It should be treated properly to reduce the frequency of flare ups.

At the first sign of symptoms, it is extremely pertinent to contact a physician. Diagnosis of Crohn's Disease is commonly done by a series of medical tests. A Barium contrast study may be done by taking xrays of the digestive tract after the patient is given a Barium mixture to drink that will help the effected area to show up plainly on the xray. A CT scan, ultrasound, or colonoscopy may also be necessary for proper diagnosis.

If Crohn's Disease symptoms are left untreated, more severe health issues may surface. These can include blockages or perforations of the bowel, abscesses of the bowel, and the inflammation may spread to other areas of the body. If other organs of the body are effected by the inflammation, it could result in a life threatening situation.

Treatment of Crohn's Disease may include various medications. In some instances, surgery may even be required. Medications that are commonly used in treating Crohn's Disease are Mesalamine, Olsalazine, and Sulfasalazine. These medications are similar to aspirin and they help reduce inflammation and relieve painful symptoms. Corticosteroids such as Betamethasone, Dexamethasone, Prednisone, and Triamcinolone for decreasing swelling and inflammation.

Surgical treatment of Crohn's Disease is normally for only the most extreme cases. it involves surgically removing a part of the intestines that is severely diseased. It will also be needed if a blockage or abscess is found in the intestines. While surgery can relieve symptoms of the disease, it is not a cure all. Chron's Disease can return at anytime even after surgery is performed.
Eating healthy can also be very important for patients who have been diagnosed with Chron's. Due to excessive diarrhea, many of the important vitamins and nutrients we need daily can be lost. It is best to eat a diet that is high in fiber and vitamins. Taking vitamin supplements can also be a good way to ensure you will be getting adequate vitamins and minerals even on your worst days.

People who suffer from either Irritable Bowel Syndrome or Chron's Disease may need to make adjustments to their normal lifestyles. There will be good days when you feel like doing everything you normally do and there will be days when you don't. Many sufferers of these diseases find they do not travel away from home as they once did. Some may choose to travel only on days they truly feel able to. This would depend entirely on the person and what they may or may not be comfortable with.

The most important thing to remember is to see your physician regularly. Always take medications as prescribed and eat as healthy as possible. If there are certain foods that seem to trigger your symptoms, remove them from your diet completely. Take time to relax and get plenty of rest. Limiting the amount of stress in your life to as little as possible may possibly reduce the frequency of flare ups. Your life does not have to end with a diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome or Chron's Disease, but you can expect some major changes to occur. Being ready for those changes can make these illnesses much easier to manage. Making it a point to take extra care of yourself will most likely lessen the symptoms you will have to deal with.

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