At-Home Treatment Options for Crohn’s Disease
What is Crohn’s disease?
Crohn's disease is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes inflammation of the digestive tract. Although the intestines are usually the most symptomatic, Crohn’s disease can produce symptoms anywhere in the digestive tract from the mouth to the anus. The lower part of the small intestine is most commonly affected by Crohn’s disease. Symptoms include, but are not limited to, stomach pain, diarrhea, blood in the stool, fatigue, and weight loss.
What are some at-home treatment options for Crohn’s disease?
In addition to conventional treatments for Crohn’s disease, some steps can be taken at home to help relieve the symptoms of a flare and increase time between flares. These at-home treatments include diet and lifestyle changes, stress relief techniques, and proper hydration.
- Proper hydration. Diarrhea, one of the main symptoms of Crohn’s disease, can lead to dehydration. Drinking plenty of water with and in-between meals can help keep the body properly hydrated. Acidic fruit juices, beverages with high fructose corn syrup, carbonated beverages, beverages with caffeine, and alcohol should be avoided as they can increase inflammation and exacerbate digestive issues.
- Food choices. Eating lean proteins, such as fish or poultry without the skin, provides the body with good protein, which is essential for building and healing tissues in the body. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids or polyunsaturated fats, such as salmon, walnuts, and olives, can also promote healing in the body. When choosing carbohydrates during a Crohn’s flare, low-fiber options, such as white bread, white rice or pasta, and cooked, non-cruciferous vegetables, are good choices. Raw vegetables, other high fiber foods, fatty foods, dairy, spicy foods, or any other foods that worsen symptoms should be avoided.
- Small, frequent meals. In addition to the types of foods consumed, the amount of food consumed at each meal can also make a difference. Eating five or six small meals throughout the day instead of two or three large meals can help lessen the strain on the digestive system.
- Smoking cessation. Smoking not only makes an individual more likely to develop Crohn’s disease, but it also significantly worsens symptoms. Quitting the habit of smoking can reduce symptoms of Crohn’s disease and also reduce or prevent the risks of various other health conditions.
- Skin care. Diarrhea and frequent bowel movements can lead to sensitive skin around the anus. Soothing the skin by soaking in a warm bath, patting the perianal skin dry, and applying an emollient on the skin can help. Wearing loose clothing that will not irritate the perianal skin is also beneficial.
- Stress relief. Stress can worsen the symptoms of Crohn’s disease. Practicing breathing exercises, trying meditation, doing yoga or tai chi, listening to calming music, or spending time relaxing with family and friends are good ways to keep stress at bay. Also, maintaining proper sleep hygiene is beneficial.
These at-home treatments can be combined with conventional or alternative and complementary treatments to reduce symptoms of Crohn’s disease and improve quality of life.