Crohn’s disease affects almost 700,000 men and women in the United States. This disease is often uncomfortable, unpredictable, even embarrassing. While there is no cure, there are ways to manage Crohn’s disease and live a life that is fulfilling. If you have been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, you need to be aware of potential complications and the best ways to manage the disease.

What is Crohn’s Disease?

Crohn’s disease falls under the umbrella of inflammatory bowel disease. Symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea, fever, weight loss, reduced appetite, and can even lead to inflammation in other parts of the body. Crohn’s disease is chronic, meaning it will be a lifelong issue. However, you can work diligently with your doctor to manage your symptoms and reach remission—a period of time where you experience no symptoms. When symptoms are prevalent, you are experiencing a “flare-up.” The severity and longevity of a flare-up will indicate the category of your disease: mild, moderate, or severe.

Life with Crohn’s Disease

While diet and stress do not cause Crohn’s disease they can aggravate symptoms. In fact, there are certain foods that can cause a flare-up or increase the severity of your symptoms. Greasy and fried foods, milk-based products, and foods that are high in fiber should be generally avoided. You may need to eat smaller meals more frequently to reduce your symptoms. Learning how to effectively manage your stress will also help you minimize the severity of flare-ups. 

If you have Crohn’s you will need to be diligent to take your medication, follow your doctor’s instructions, and check in regularly with your physician. If you don’t carefully manage your disease, you risk experiencing a complication. Complications include ulcers, bowel obstructions, anal fissures, malnutrition, and colon cancer. While these complications can be dangerous, a new study has revealed a less dangerous, but still serious complication that is associated with Crohn’s disease: sleep disorder.

Sleep Disruption and Crohn’s Disease

The study was performed at Brigham and Women’s Hospital led by Taha Qazi, MD. The research studied 80 men and women with Crohn’s disease over the course of seven nights. The participants had no other known sleep issues. 72 of the patients participated in the study for at least five nights. They were monitored by a wrist actigraphy while sleeping. Of the 72 participants, 28 were in remission, 22 were categorized as having mild disease activity, and the remaining 22 as having moderate-to-severe disease activity. 

The study revealed that the participants in remission had more effective sleep patterns. Those with moderate-to-severe Crohn’s disease experienced fragmented sleep and were awake for a long time after their sleep was disrupted. Overall, those experiencing moderate-to-severe symptoms were not getting sufficient sleep. Lack of sleep actually leads to cell damage and can cause inflammation. If you have Crohn’s disease, you are at risk for disrupted sleep. The sleep disruption can then lead to a relapse of symptoms. 

If you have been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, are not sleeping well, or have yet to experience remission, it’s time to schedule an appointment with GI Associates and Endoscopy Center. Our team of gastroenterologists can help you learn how to reduce your symptoms, the frequency of flare-ups, and get better sleep. When you are well rested, you are more apt to both physically and emotionally handle Crohn’s disease.

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