JRA.... Journal of a Radical Arthritis Chick

Here I give advice, speak of my experiences and give information to those who want to better understand Rheumatoid Arthritis. I am NOT a medical professional, and you should always seek advice from a doctor.

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Location: MA, United States

Hello everyone! I am 28 years old and was diagnosed with JRA (Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis) when I was just 3 years old. I've had my battles with this disease over the years, and have decided to create a blog. I want to share my stories and adivce with other RA chicks, or anyone interested, to raise awareness and get insight from others. Feel free to comment/question me about anything. Thanks, and I hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Crohn's Disease

Since I did my last blog on IBS, and referred about Crohn's disease, I figured I'd continue with the digestive tract and start a blog on it.  First off, Crohn's disease is a form of inflammatory bowl disease (IBD) that usually affects the intestines, but can occur anywhere from the mouth to the end of the rectum.  The exact cause of Crohn's is unknown, but it is linked to the body's immune systems.  In some cases, it can be linked or seen along with Rheumatoid Arthritis, in fact in 25% of people who have Crohn's, they also have RA.  They are not sure how this happens, but Crohn's disease attacks the body the same way that Rheumatoid Arthritis, it's yet another autoimmune disease.

An autoimmune disease, is when the body can't tell the difference between normal body tissue and foreign substances.  When this happens, it cause an overactive immune response that results in inflammation, in Crohn's disease the intestinal wall becomes inflammed and thick.  It's a chronic condition that can occur anywhere along the digestive track, affecting the the small intestine, the large intestine, the rectum, or the mouth. 

While the exact cause of the disease is unknown, there are different factors that can contribute to the cause.  A person's genes or environmental factors can cause it, one's body may be overreacting to normal bacteria in the intestines.  The disease can occur at any age, but is most commonly seen between the ages of 15-35.  Risk factors include: smoking, family history and Jewish ancestry.

What are the symptoms of Crohn's?  Symptoms vary depending on what part of the intestinal tract is affected, they can range from mild to severe and can come and go in flare-ups and periods of no symptoms at all.  Symptoms include: crampy stomach pain, fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, pain with passing a BM, persistent diarrhea, unintentional weight loss, constipation, eye inflammation, joint pain, liver pain, swollen gums and many more. 

Tests that are done to determine if it is Crohn's or not, usually starts with a physical exam.  Other tests include: Colonosopy, CT Scan, Endoscopy, and also a stool sample.  These are just some of the tests that may be done to see what is going on inside your digestive tract. 

How is Crohn's treated?  Some people claim diet and nutrition can play a role, but there is no specific diet that has been proven to worsen the symptoms.  There are certain foods that can make diarrhea and gas worse, so your doctor will tell you which foods to avoid, especially during flare-ups.  Foods of that nature include: fast food, caffeine, high-fiber, heavy cream, spicy foods and dairy.  Stress is a big trigger for symptoms, so finding a balance and stress reliever can help. Exercises like Yoga or meditation can help relax your body during stressful situations.  Some cases can be treated with medications, which are pretty much all the same used to treat RA also.  These medicines include: Corticosteroids (like prednisone), biologics (like Humira or Remicade), or Aminosalicylates.   If medication does not work, surgery may be needed in some severe cases. 

Sadly, like all auto-immune diseases there is no cure for Crohn's.  It's important to bring up any digestive problems with your doctor.  I know I probably sound like a broken record saying that in every blog, but I just know some stubborn people who ignore symptoms and it ends up hurting them in the end.  It does suck being on so many medications at once, and it seems like one your diagnosed with one disease you just end up with more.  However, I'd rather take a bunch of meds now, and prolong my life and be able to enjoy it the best I can, than suffer in pain and sickness and be miserable. So, please don't be afraid to speak to your doctor!  Thanks again for all those who read my blog.  I will be taking the next week off, because I have an RA friend coming to stay with me.  Cheers and hugs to all! :o)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post, Mallory! I'm glad to have learned more about Crohn's, though thankfully, I don't have it. Enjoy your time with your friend next week, and I'll be looking forward to your next post. Be well... :)

March 31, 2011 at 3:08 AM  

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