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12 Important Things to Remember About Crohn’s Disease

12 Important Things to Remember About Crohn’s Disease

If someone in your life has Crohn’s disease, you might be curious about what exactly this condition is and what kind of problems that it brings. But you might be nervous about bringing the subject up or talking about it with your friend or loved one. This article serves as a guide to Crohn’s disease and the things you should remember if someone in your life has this difficult condition.

They deal with a lot of pain

Crohn’s disease causes inflammation and can affect any area of the digestive tract–most commonly the small and large intestines. This inflammation causes sometimes severe abdominal pain that can be difficult to control, especially during the flare-up. If the pain is chronic, it can interfere with general activities of daily living.

They have other digestive symptoms as well

Apart from abdominal pain, people with this condition can have other digestive problems as well. They will frequently suffer from diarrhea or constipation, abdominal cramping and bloating,  and bleeding from the rectum. They will sometimes also develop fistulas, usually around the rectal area.

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They might have a very restricted diet

While everyone with Crohn’s disease is different, there are some foods which researchers suspect can make the problem worse. Many people with this condition find that a low dairy, low fat and low residue diet are the most helpful for managing digestive problems. So don’t be offended if they don’t want to go out for pizza; it is probably not on the list of things that they can eat.

They often need supplements

Because their diet can be so restrictive, sometimes people with Crohn’s disease do not get enough nutrients in their diet. They will often have to also take oral supplements, like those for calcium, vitamin D or iron. They might also get shots, like B-12 injections, in order to make up for this deficit. In extreme cases, if they are not able to get enough food down, they will have to be fed through a g-tube or through an IV.

They can get infections easily

Sometimes, in order to control their condition, people with Crohn’s disease have to be given special medications like Imuran, which suppress their immune system. While Imuran can help those with Chrohn’s, it also means that the person’s body is less able to fight off infections–and this can make it a lot easier to get sick.

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They have to deal with severe side effects from medications

Apart from lowering their immunity, there are other side effects from medications that can make life difficult for those with this condition. Azulifidine, for example, is a common treatment but its side effects can include nausea with vomiting and diarrhea, as well as heartburn and headaches. Steroid treatment is also common to reduce inflammation, but it can cause problems like swelling of the face and hands, water weight and general weight gain and insomnia, just to name a few.

They might require surgery

In about half of all cases, Crohn’s disease becomes severe enough that surgery is required to remove the affected part of the digestive tract, such as a portion of the intestines. However, this usually only brings temporary relief and often the disease will occur again.

They might need help to manage stress

While stress does not cause Crohn’s disease, it can make it worse. Learning stress relief techniques like deep breathing exercises or meditation can help them manage their day to day stress and hopefully help prevent a flare-up.

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They might use complementary therapies

Many people with Crohn’s disease also turn to complementary or alternative medicines to help with day-to-day management of their condition. This can include supplements like probiotics or fish oil, or even techniques like acupuncture, which have been shown to help control several disease symptoms.

They have more treatment options than in the past

One positive thing about this condition is that there are more treatment options for it than in the past. Research is underway with techniques, like stem cell treatments and fecal transplants, that might help to greatly improve the lives of those with Crohn’s disease.

They still have sexual needs

Just like anyone else, people with Crohn’s Disease have sexual desires and feelings. However, because of pain and digestive problems like diarrhea, this disease can make sex more of a challenge. With good communication and a willingness to experiment with different positions and techniques, a satisfying sex life is still possible.

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They need emotional support

Because of the challenges that people with Crohn’s disease can face in everyday life, emotional support of family and friends is vital. Just being there for them and letting them know that you want to help can make a huge difference!

In short, this is not an easy condition to live with. Simple things like eating, going to the bathroom, being intimate with someone, or even just being free of pain can present huge obstacles for people with Crohn’s disease. Again, simply having the support of family and friends can help with an overall positive attitude and emotional health even in the face of these challenges.

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Brian Wu

Health Writer, Author

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Last Updated on October 16, 2018

The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

It’s well past midnight and you’ve got to get up in less than six hours. You toss and turn all night. Before you know it, another hour passes by and you start panicking.

If I don’t get to sleep in the next 30 minutes, I’m going to be exhausted tomorrow!”

One thing is for sure, you’re not alone. Over 70M+ Americans have stated that they don’t get the proper sleep they need at night.[1] So what could possibly be causing this insomnia epidemic?

Throughout my entrepreneurial journey of building my language learning company, I have experimented and researched dozens of best sleep practices. Some have flopped but a few have dramatically improved the quality of my life and work.

In this article, I’ll look into the reason why you’re sleep deprived and how to sleep through the night tonight.

Why you can’t sleep through the night

The first step to improving anything is getting to the bottom of the root problem. Different studies have shown the reasons why most people cannot sleep well at night.[2] Here are the main ones that the average person faces:

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Stress

If you’ve ever stayed up at night worrying about something, know that it’s a major sleep inhibitor. When you’re feeling stress, your mind and body becomes more activated, making it incredibly difficult to fall asleep. Even when you do manage to sleep, it won’t be deep enough to help you feel rested the next day.

Exposure to blue light before sleep time

We’re exposed to harmful blue light on a daily basis through the use of our digital screens. If you’ve never heard of blue light, it’s part of the visible light spectrum that suppresses melatonin, our sleep hormones. Other harmful effects include digital eye strains and macular cellular damage.

While daytime exposure to blue light is not very harmful, night time exposure tricks our brain into thinking it’s daytime. By keeping your brain alert and suppressing melatonin, your mind is unable to shut down and relax before bedtime.

Eating close to bedtime

Eating too late can actually be an issue for many people, especially those who are older than 40. The reason is, eating before laying down increases the chances of Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), in which stomach acid backflows into the esophagus.

Another reason not to eat too late is sleep quality. Even if you manage to sleep right after eating, it’s likely that you’ll wake up tired. Instead of letting your body rest during sleep, it has to digest the food that was entered before bedtime.

Rule of thumb: eat 3-4 hours before bedtime.

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Medical conditions

In some cases, it could be medical conditions that cause your sleep problems. If you can’t relate yourself to the above reasons or any of these common sleep problem causes, you should visit the doctor.

The vicious sleep cycle

The biggest danger to repeating the bad habits mentioned above is the negative cycle that it can take you through. A bad night’s sleep can affect not only your energy but your willpower and decision making skills.

Here’s an example of a bad sleep pattern:

You get a bad night’s sleep
–> You feel tired and stressful throughout the day.
–> You compensate it with unhealthy habits (for example junk food, skipping exercises, watching Netflix etc.)
–> You can’t sleep well (again) the next night.

    You can imagine what could happen if this cycle repeats over a longer period of time.

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    How to sleep better (throughout the night)

    To help you break the vicious cycle and stop waking up in the middle of the night, I’ll explain to you a list of actionable steps to solve your trouble staying asleep.

    1. Take control over the last 90 minutes of your night

    What you do (or don’t do) before bedtime have significant impact on the quality of your sleep. Many times, it can be the difference between staying up until 4am and sleeping like a baby.

    Here are a few suggestions:

    • Go from light to dark – Darkness stimulates production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Turn off unused light around the house, and think about investing into warm light that you can use in the bedroom before bedtime.
    • Avoid screens (or wear blue light blocking glasses) – Keep the bedroom a technology-free zone as the light from electronic devices can disturb your sleep. If you need to work, wear blue light blocking glasses (also known as computer glasses) throughout or before you sleep to prevent sleep disruption.
    • Find an activity that helps you to wind down  This could be anything that calms you down, and reduces thinking (especially unnecessary stress). Fir example, listening to soothing/good feel music, taking a hot bath, reading or meditating.
    • Keep any electronics you have on the other side of the room or outside the room – One of the most harmful things that can disrupt your sleep is the notifications you get from your smartphones. The simplest way to avoid this is to keep it away from you.
    • Create a bedtime routine – A night routine is a couple of things you do prior to going to bed. By doing these things every night, you’ll have a more restful and high-quality sleep. Learn how to pick up a night routine here: The Ultimate Night Routine Guide to Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive

    2. Eat the right nutrients (and avoid the wrong ones)

    What you eat (not just when we eat) plays a critical role in your sleep quality. If you’re ever in doubt of what to eat to improve your sleep, take the following into consideration:

    • Kiwi – This green fruit may be the ultimate pre-bed snack. When volunteers ate two kiwis an hour before hitting the hay, they slept almost a full extra hour. Kiwis are full of vitamins C and E, serotonin and folate—all of which may help you snooze.
    • Soy foods – Foods made with soy such as tofu, miso and edamame, are rich in isoflavones. These compounds increase the production of serotonin, a brain chemical that influences the body’s sleep-wake cycle.
    • Fiber-rich foods – Eating more fiber could be key for better sleep. Eating fiber was associated with more restorative slow-wave sleep—the more you eat, the better you sleep—per a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Fiber prevents blood sugar surges that may lower melatonin. Get a fiber boost from beans, artichokes, bran cereal and quinoa.
    • Salmon – Most fish, especially salmon, halibut and tuna boost vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin— a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness.

    3. Adjust your sleep temperature

    Once you’ve gone through the first 2 recommendations, the last step to experiment with is temperature. According to Sleep.org, the ideal temperature for sleep is 60-67 Farenheit. This may be cooler than what most people are used to, but keep in mind that our body temperature changes once we fall asleep.

    Rule of thumb: sleeping in cooler temperature is better for sleep quality than warmer temperature.

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    Find out how to maintain the optimal temperature to sleep better here: How to Sleep Faster with the Best Temperature

    Sleep better form now on

    Congrats on making it to the end of this guide on sleep. If you’re serious about taking the necessary steps in improving your sleep, remember to take it one step at a time.

    I recommend trying just one of the steps mentioned such as taking a hot bath, blocking out blue light at night, or sleeping in cooler temperature. From there, see how it impacts your sleep quality and you can keep doing what works, and throw away what doesn’t.

    As long as you follow these steps cautiously and diligently, I know you’ll see improved results in your sleep!

    Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

    Reference

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