It’s uncomfortable, painful, and at times embarrassing: swelling in the belly. There are numerous reasons people suffer a bloated belly, but intolerance to certain foods are the usual culprit. Unfortunately, narrowing down the exact problem can be difficult.
Often, bloating brooklyn ny nutritionists say, is caused by a difficulty digesting foods rich in fiber. Intolerance to certain foods such as lactose (milk) and gluten (wheat), and artificial sweeteners may cause excess gas which leads to swelling. One notable health condition that also causes bloating is Crohn’s disease.
What Is Crohn’s Disease?
Considered an autoimmune disease, the disease affects nearly 1. 5 million Americans. The cause of Crohn’s disease remains a mystery. It’s characterized by an inflammation of the intestines, and can affect the entire gastrointestinal tract, from the mouth to the anus. In 80-90 percent of cases it is localized in the small intestine.
Its clinical onset is generally between 15 and 45 years old and it affects males and females with the same frequency, but with a greater diffusion in Western countries, probably due to diet and lifestyle. While the exact cause is not known, several factors that, combined, can trigger the disease. A first-degree family member with Crohn’s disease is the main element of risk, to which environmental factors, such as cigarette smoking, dietetic factors and an alteration of the intestinal flora can increase risk. Other factors that greatly increase severity is stress.
What Are Symptoms of Crohn’s?
Many people with Crohn’s disease have symptoms for years before a diagnosis is made, thus it’s important to consult a doctor. Symptoms of the disease vary and can depend on where it affects the body most. If it affects the lower part of the intestine it is common to have diarrhea, often with the presence of some blood in the stool. If it is located higher in the gastrointestinal tract, the symptoms may be bloating, constipation and abdominal pain. A common symptom, independent of the affected area, is weight loss accompanied by fever cramping, bloating and sometimes joint pain.
Diagnosing the Disease
Doctors say it can be difficult to diagnose because there is no one exam capable of giving all the answers and because the symptoms of Crohn’s disease are often mistaken for those of irritable bowel syndrome. Doctors will perform tests to discover if any inflammation exists in the intestine. Also, testing for iron deficiency or anemia will help evaluate the symptoms. If these tests are not sufficient for a prognosis, a colonoscopy, along with lab tests and video examinations can lead them to a final conclusion.
Treating Symptoms and the Disease
At the moment, there is no definitive treatment for the disease, but lifestyle changes, including modifying dietary habits, and prescription drugs can help control the disease. Avoiding dairy products, eating smaller meals, including curcumin, which has an anti-inflammatory effect, and taking antibiotics can reduce inflammation and improve symptoms.
Crohn’s disease can also be treated with surgery, when there is a partial or total blockage within the intestines. There are problems that can occur as a result with surgery, like scar tissue accumulating, which can create the need for more interventions later on. When noticing any symptoms, like persistent bloating, cramping or abdominal discomfort, consult a doctor to diagnose and treat the problem.