Crohn’s disease is a long term condition which cannot be cured and while the exact cause of it appearing and affecting the body is unknown, it is actually extremely common affecting around 780,000 people yearly in the US alone.
It can be easily managed with nutritional supplements, medication and certain changes in diet, however several long term conditions similar to Crohn’s have been known to limit the average life expectancy.
Below we have detailed all you need to know on how much Crohn’s disease really affects life expectancy, how dangerous it is and the best way to manage and treat the condition.
How Does Crohn’s Disease Affect The Body?
Crohn’s disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease which causes inflammation of the digestive tract. The condition can cause digestive problems, abdominal pain and severe cases of diarrhea and stomach cramps.
The inflammation caused by Crohn’s can involve several areas of the digestive tract for different people and will often spread into the deeper layers of the bowels which can cause uncomfortable cases of diarrhea and blood appearing in your stool.
Luckily Crohn’s disease was first discovered in 1932 and has been researched for several decades to the point where managing the condition has now become very easy and accessible and can help mitigate a large portion of symptoms.
How Dangerous Is Crohn’s Disease?
Crohn’s disease is not life threatening, many people who have the illness live completely normal lives and can comfortably manage the symptoms that can arise when a flare occurs.
It can however develop into the more threatening colorectal cancer which occurs when abnormal cells form in the lining of the colon which over time become cancerous.
Because Crohn’s Disease affects the colon it heightens the risk of contracting colorectal cancer with the risk being higher primarily for those who have had Crohn’s for 8-10 years.
While the risk of contracting it is higher in people who have Crohn’s, it is still a rarity with most people living normally with their Crohn’s disease never developing further.
Does Crohn’s Disease Affect Life Expectancy?
In a 2009 meta-analysis study it was found that the mortality rate among those with Crohn’s of both genders was quite a bit higher than those who did not have the condition.
In recent years however with advanced medication and ways of personally managing the disease, this has lowered significantly.
Today the life expectancy of individuals with an inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s on average live 5 to 6 years less than those without the condition.
The primary reasoning for this is because Crohn’s applies constant pain on daily functions required to keep the body working as it should.
This is not guaranteed however, in general it is assumed that a person with Crohn’s disease can live a life just as long as the rest of the general population, it is primarily activities like smoking and drinking alcohol that can cause more complications in the body and make Crohn’s more deadly.
You can definitely live a long and healthy life with Crohn’s disease, the key is getting diagnosed early and making sure your individualized treatment such as medications, supplements and change in diet is working effectively to mitigate the symptoms as much as possible.
How To Manage Crohn’s Disease?
Crohn’s disease unfortunately cannot be cured however there are many forms of treatment that work to ease the symptoms seen in flares such as abdominal cramp and diarrhea.
If you experience a flare or have gone through several, contact your doctor and they will test to see whether the flare is due to some sort of infection in the body, or if any recent antibiotics or medications may have been the source.
The first tests conducted will analyze your blood and stool since these are the primary indicators of someone having Crohn’s. Further testing can include X-rays of the upper and lower GI tract to get a clearer look.
The main medication usually prescribed by doctors to manage Crohn’s flares is Aminosalicylates.
This group of medication has been seen to be effective in treating mild to moderate episodes of Crohn’s disease flares and hold back a lot of the symptoms being too painful or uncomfortable in the long term, examples of Aminosalicylate medications include:
Some personal ways to help monitor Crohn’s include avoiding NSAIDs or Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen or naproxen.
These medications can impair the ability of the GI tract to properly heal itself and can create a flare, so it is best to avoid taking them in order to avoid any symptoms appearing.
Reducing stress through activities like meditation and yoga or even cognitive behavioral therapy is also practiced by many individuals with Crohn’s and while stress is not directly linked with the disease, the reduction of it has been seen to be an effective method of slowing down flares.
Avoiding smoking will also largely reduce the chances of a flare occurring along with less of a need for medication and potential surgery down the line.
Different foods will also affect people with Crohn’s differently so if you experience any mild symptoms after eating a certain food, then be sure to try avoiding it in the future, this includes drinks and alcohol.
There are a few dietary pointers that tend to work well in resisting Crohn’s however and these include:
- Avoid dairy as much as possible
- Avoid greasy and fried food
- Limit foods that cause gas such as beans
Crohn’s disease has been around for quite a few decades by now and so the ways to manage and treat it are well researched and more accessible now than ever before.
While the average life expectancy for those with the disease has been recorded on average to be slightly lower than normal, it is by a tiny margin and with regular maintenance a person with Crohn’s disease is more than able to live just as long a life as anyone.