September 18, 2014
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Crohn's & Colitis

 Health Home >> Crohn's & Colitis >> Crohn's disease - What you need to know 


The impact of Crohn's disease

Crohn's disease can have a devastating effect on your work, family, and social life:

  • Crohn's disease is a life-long condition with no cure.
  • The disease is unpredictable, so there's no telling when a flare-up may strike.
  • Flare-ups can sometimes be triggered or worsened by stress, smoking, or certain foods.
  • During a flare-up, you may experience symptoms that may be painful, embarrassing, or debilitating, such as diarrhea, stomach cramps, and weight loss. Crohn's disease may also cause you to frequently miss work, meals, sleep, or precious time with your family and friends. Hospitalization may be required in some cases.
  • It's estimated that 25% of people with Crohn's disease are not fully capable of work in the first year after diagnosis.
  • About 15% of people with Crohn's disease are unable to work after having Crohn's disease for 5 to 10 years.
  • Within 10 years of being diagnosed, about half of all people with Crohn's disease will need surgery to treat disease that has not responded adequately to treatment or complications of the disease. Remember, surgery is not a cure for Crohn's disease.

These effects on your life can put a strain on your physical and emotional health. Knowing you have Crohn's disease may make you ask "why me?" You may feel angry or sad.

But did you know you can gain control of this disease? Most people living with Crohn's disease can lead full and productive lives. You may not have to give up doing the things you have always enjoyed. Whether you're using a treatment for your Crohn's disease or not, tell your doctor about your symptoms and how they are affecting your life. This will help your doctor provide you with the right treatment to help you take control of your Crohn's symptoms and give you more freedom from this debilitating disease.

How do you know when it's time to talk to doctor?

It may be time for a doctor's visit if:

  • you're concerned that you may have Crohn's disease
  • you're newly diagnosed with Crohn's disease
  • you have questions about Crohn's disease or your treatment options
  • you're being treated for Crohn's disease but your symptoms are still impacting your life
  • if you have any of the following "alarm symptoms":
    1. abdominal pain
    2. diarrhea (especially if it occurs at night) associated with the following:
      1. weight loss
      2. iron deficiency
      3. elevated inflammatory markers

If any of the above applies to you, or if you have any other questions or concerns, see your doctor or gastroenterologist (a doctor who specializes in the digestive system) for help.

It's not always easy to talk to your doctor about Crohn's disease. Bowel movements can be an uncomfortable topic. But starting the conversation with your doctor is your first step on the road to taking control of Crohn's disease.

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