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Crohn’s Disease: Managing Symptoms

Crohn's Disease: Managing Symptoms

Crohn’s disease is an ongoing (chronic) condition that causes the gastrointestinal (GI) tract to become inflamed. While the stomach may be affected, Crohn’s goes beyond this area of GI tract. Inflammation may also occur in the:

The disease is an autoimmune reaction to normal substances in the gut (like bacteria and food) that the immune system mistakes for foreign invaders and is compelled to “attack.” Another possible culprit is thought to be proteins produced by the immune system.


The main symptoms of Crohn’s disease are:
  • Crampy pain in the abdomen (belly area)
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Feeling that you need to pass stools, even though your bowels are already empty. It may involve straining, pain, and cramping.
  • Watery diarrhea, which may be bloody
  • Weight loss

Other symptoms may include:

  • Constipation
  • Sores or swelling in the eyes
  • Draining of pus, mucus, or stools from around the rectum or anus (caused by something called a fistula)
  • Joint pain and swelling
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Rectal bleeding and bloody stools
  • Swollen gums
  • Tender, red bumps (nodules) under the skin which may turn into skin ulcers

Because Crohn’s disease involves the immune system, you also may have symptoms outside the digestive tract. These may include joint pain, eye problems, a skin rash, or liver disease.

Management Tips

There are various aspects for treatment and management of Crohn’s disease- diet, exercise, stress, medication and surgery.


Eat a well-balanced, healthy diet. Include enough calories, protein, and nutrients from a variety of food groups.

To help ease symptoms, try:

Ask your doctor about extra vitamins and minerals you may need, such as:


When stressed, the normal digestive process changes. The stomach empties more slowly and secretes more acid. Stress can also speed or slow the passage of intestinal contents. It may also cause changes in intestinal tissue itself. Although it’s not always possible to avoid stress. Mild exercise can help reduce stress, relieve depression and normalize bowel function. One way to cope with stress is to regularly relax and use techniques such as deep, slow breathing to calm down.


In one Canadian study, researchers found that taking a walk for as little as 30 minutes three days a week increased well-being and quality of life in people with mild Crohn’s disease.  In general, low-impact exercises such as walking and swimming are good options, particularly if you have arthritis, which affects as many as 25 percent of people with Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis. If your anal area is tender or irritated from Crohn’s symptoms, some activities may be uncomfortable, such as bicycling or horseback riding. This is when swimming or other low-impact aerobic activities may be better options.

If you want to try weight training, or strength training. Ask your doctor if these types of activities would be good for you to rebuild muscles weakened by illness and medications.

Medication & Surgery

Always talk to your doctor or nurse before using drugs for treatment. Some people with Crohn’s disease may need surgery to remove a damaged or diseased part of the intestine. In some cases, the entire large intestine is removed, with or without the rectum.

Although Crohn’s disease cannot be cured even with surgery, treatment can offer significant help to most patients.


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