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There are two main types of IBD: Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
Both are chronic (i.e., long-term) diseases that cause inflammation in the digestive tract, triggering symptoms like abdominal pain and diarrhea.
While there is no one type of Crohn’s disease diet—and a food that triggers symptoms in one person may not trigger any in another–there are some general tips for eating wisely with Crohn’s.
Experts recommend that people who are living with Crohn’s disease keep a food diary, where they can record what they eat and what types of symptoms they experience afterwards.
Medications, which can help prevent the immune system from flaring up, not only help ease the symptoms of Crohn’s disease, but also allow the digestive tract to heal. Although it can reduce the symptoms and conserve parts of the GI tract, about 30% of people who undergo surgery will see a return of their symptoms within three years, and up to 60% will see a return of their symptoms within 10 years, according to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation.
There are also many available treatments for the complications of Crohn’s.
A blood test can determine whether a person has a low red blood cell count (which could signal anemia) or a high white blood cell count (which could indicate inflammation), while a stool test will help detect inflammation and rule out infections with similar symptoms to Crohn’s disease like C. These include colonoscopies (in which the tiny camera, or endoscope, is used to examine the rectum, colon, and ileum), an upper GI endoscopy (in which an endoscope is inserted down the esophagus and into the stomach), and a capsule endoscopy (in which a capsule that contains a tiny camera is swallowed, and images of the digestive tract are transmitted to a receiver).
(The other main form of IBD is called ulcerative colitis, which can cause similar symptoms and is sometimes mistaken for Crohn’s.) Although Crohn’s can affect any area in the GI tract, from the mouth to the anus, the inflammation usually occurs in the ileum, or the end of the small intestine. Crohn, MD, in 1932, Crohn’s disease affects an estimated 780,000 people in the United States.