Crohn's disease triggers inflammation in the digestive tract, causing pain, diarrhea, and worse. Crohn's can be hard to treat and isolating. That's why you need the bottom line on managing your illness. Click through for common myths and facts now.

 

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Crohn's can run in families.

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Your risk of Crohn's is higher if you have a family history of the disease, or if your ancestors are from Eastern Europe. Siblings of Crohn's patients are up to 30 times more likely to develop the disease.

Crohn's is contagious.

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While the cause of Crohn's is not certain, what is certain is that you can't catch it from your neighbor or coworker. The onset may involve an abnormal immune response to bacteria or a virus in your gut.

Crohn's only affects young adults.

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Crohn's is most commonly diagnosed in teens and young adults 18 to 35, but it can strike at any age. Unfortunately, children are one of the fastest-growing populations of Crohn's patients.

Losing weight can be a symptom of Crohn's.

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Failure to grow in height and weight is a problem for people with Crohn's, who can have a hard time digesting food. Diarrhea and belly pain can lead to rapid weight loss and even malnutrition.

Crohn's is annoying but rarely painful.

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Crohn's can cause sores in the digestive tract, called ulcers, which can be extremely painful. People with persistent abdominal pain who suspect it could be Crohn's should see a doctor right away.

Crohn's is the same as Irritable Bowel Syndrome

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While irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn's disease share many symptoms, these are two unrelated conditions. Crohn's can lead to more serious health consequences than IBS.

Crohn's is fairly easy to diagnose.

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People can suffer for years with Crohn's without a formal diagnosis. That's because Crohn's symptoms, like pain, fatigue, and diarrhea, can come and go, and can be signs of many other conditions.

A Crohn's diagnosis starts with an X-ray.

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A Crohn's diagnosis starts with a comprehensive medical history, and tests such as a colonoscopy, a barium enema, or stool lab tests. X-rays and MRIs may or may not be indicated.

Crohn's can increase cancer risk.

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If you've had Crohn's for 8 years or longer, and your disease involves the colon, you should talk to your doctor about how to screen for colon or rectal cancer. Crohn's may put you at slightly higher risk for both.

Surgery cures Crohn's Disease.

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Up to three-quarters of Crohn's patients will eventually require surgery to remove damaged parts of the intestines. Half of these patients will have a recurrence within 5 years.

Crohn's treatment can have unpleasant side effects.

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Drugs prescribed for Crohn's can be difficult to deal with. Extended use can increase your risk for high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and infection.

If a Crohn's treatment doesn't seem to be working, it's best to stop it.

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Most Crohn’s patients try many treatments. But it’s important to work with your doctor to find the right treatment for the stage you are coping with, and to continue treatment as prescribed.

Stress causes Crohn's.

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Stress doesn’t cause Crohn’s, but it may aggravate your symptoms. Many people find that relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation can help them manage their disease.

Travel presents a special challenge for people with Crohn's disease.

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Travel can be a challenge for anyone, but people with Crohn's need to take extra care. Make sure you have access to medications, bathrooms, and clean water everywhere you go.

It's fine to have an occasional cigarette if it relieves your Crohn's-related stress.

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Smoking is especially dangerous for Crohn's patients. Cigarette smoking is a risk factor for Crohn's disease and studies have shown that it may worsen symptoms.

People with Crohn's disease often have to cut back on their favorite foods.

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Some people with Crohn’s should stay away from high-fat, deep-fried, or cream-based foods. It is important to discuss any concerns with your doctor and/or a nutritionist.

People with Crohn's disease should eat infrequently so as to avoid flare-ups.

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Eating large portions can actually trigger painful bloating. Small, frequent meals are a better strategy for people with Crohn's. Supplement with several well-balanced snacks in between.

People with Crohn's disease should eat more fiber to aid digestion.

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Many Crohn's patients do better if they avoid nuts, seeds, and raw fruits and vegetables. If you're experiencing a flare-up or bowel narrowing, you may need to be especially careful.

Supplements can play a role in managing Crohn's.

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Crohn's increases the risk of nutritional deficiencies and can weaken the immune system, so nutritional supplementation can help. However, supplements can't replace medical therapies.

Stress reduction can alleviate Crohn's symptoms.

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While stress doesn't cause Crohn's, it can make your symptoms worse. Some studies suggest that relaxation techniques such as yoga, tai chi, and meditation can help.

Acupuncture and homeopathy are proven to relieve Crohn's symptoms.

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While many Crohn's patients benefit from natural remedies, there is no proof that acupuncture or any other natural cure can directly relieve symptoms.

People with Crohn's disease are at risk for infection.

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At some point in their lives, about 1 in 4 Crohn's patients will develop an abscess or fistula, which is an abnormal opening between two parts of the body. These can lead to infections.

Crohn's Disease poses a risk for pregnant women.

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While many women with Crohn's have a healthy pregnancy and baby, it is best, if possible, to wait until the disease is in remission before becoming pregnant.

Crohn's can cause bowel obstruction.

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Crohn's inflammation can cause scarring that leads to strictures, or narrowing of the digestive tract. These partial bowel blockages can cause pain, nausea, and vomiting, and may have to be resolved surgically.

Crohn's disease is a leading cause of death.

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While there is no cure for Crohn's, the mortality rate is low and getting even lower as treatments for Crohn's improve.

You can't do anything to prevent flare-ups.

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Taking medication consistently can help, as can avoiding triggers that aggravate symptoms. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may also trigger flare-ups in some people.

Crohn's can be a medical emergency.

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While rare, Crohn's can cause a potentially life-threatening condition called toxic megacolon, in which the colon swells and can rupture. In addition, a complete bowel obstruction is an emergency.

Crohn's patients can lead active social lives.

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If you are experiencing symptoms and still want to socialize, try to choose a venue with many bathrooms. When eating out, try to preview the menu so you can bring your own “safe” foods.

Crohn's patients have no social restrictions.

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When public restrooms are off limits, a card saying you need to use one may help you gain access. Get a card from the Foundation for Clinical Research in Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

Crohn's patients can have fairly normal sex lives.

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While Crohn's shouldn't limit intimacy, during flare-ups or while taking certain medications you may prefer to refrain from sexual activity. It helps to find other ways to show you care.