How do I know if I have Crohn’s Disease?

by Dr. Kilcup | Jan 12, 2024 | Articles, crohn's disease, Digestive Health

If you are reading this, then likely you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms commonly linked with Crohn’s. Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that can affect any part of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, from the mouth to the anus. This condition is characterized by inflammation that extends deep into the affected bowel tissue and can lead to various symptoms and complications. In this article, we will explore the symptoms of Crohn’s disease, how to get it diagnosed, and treatment options. Additionally, you can learn more about triggers, dietary considerations, and other frequently asked questions about Crohn’s disease.

What are 5 symptoms of Crohn’s disease?

Crohn’s disease can manifest in various ways, and symptoms may vary from person to person. However, five common symptoms include:

  • Abdominal pain and cramping: Persistent pain in the abdomen, often accompanied by cramping, is a hallmark symptom of Crohn’s disease.
  • Diarrhea: Chronic diarrhea, sometimes with blood or mucus, is another common indication of inflammation in the digestive tract.
  • Weight loss: Ongoing inflammation and decreased nutrient absorption can lead to weight loss in individuals with Crohn’s disease.
  • Fatigue: The chronic nature of the disease and the body’s response to inflammation can result in persistent fatigue.
  • Changes in bowel habits: Individuals with Crohn’s disease may experience changes in bowel habits, including constipation.

How do doctors test for Crohn’s disease?

If you experience those symptoms associated with Crohn’s disease, now would be a great time to get testing. The process typically involves a combination of medical history review, physical examination, and various diagnostic procedures such as colonoscopy, endoscopy, and imaging tests like CT scans and MRIs. Unfortunately, obtaining these tests can be challenging. Crohn’s disease, being a complex condition, sometimes poses diagnostic difficulties, leading to potential misdiagnosis by traditional healthcare practitioners.

The symptoms may mimic those of other gastrointestinal disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or ulcerative colitis, and some individuals may not exhibit typical symptoms in the early stages. These factors, coupled with a lack of awareness about inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) among healthcare providers, can contribute to delays in identifying and treating Crohn’s disease.

Here’s How We Test for Crohn’s

In 2015, I began treating gastrointestinal issues with Functional Medicine. What is Functional Medicine? Functional medicine is a patient-centered, holistic approach to healthcare that addresses the root causes of illness rather than merely treating symptoms. I aim to understand the root causes that cause health issues. Through a detailed analysis of a patient’s medical history, functional medicine testing, and lifestyle factors, functional medicine seeks to create personalized and comprehensive treatment plans.

Functional medicine testing covers three crucial areas: infections, toxins, and nutrient deficiencies. Let’s take the stool analysis as an example. This advanced diagnostic tool is essential for figuring out what’s going on in your gut, especially for conditions like Crohn’s disease. It also checks for signs of inflammation, parasites, and other infections. In functional medicine, we also test for toxins like mold and heavy metals, check your nutrient levels (like A, E, C, D, and essential fatty acids), and evaluate minerals such as Zinc and magnesium. These tests help us understand your health better, allowing us to create personalized plans to manage symptoms and improve your overall well-being.

If you are looking to feel better and get testing and treatment, I recommend you fill our our new patient form below. I work with patients all over the world via remote appointments & can help you regardless of distance. If you live in the Phoenix area, we would love to see you in person!

How Can You Treat Crohn’s?

For Crohn’s disease, there are various treatment options. Traditional medicine aims to manage symptoms and induce remission. Medications such as anti-inflammatory drugs, immunosuppressants, and biologics may be prescribed. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to remove damaged portions of the intestine.

Both pharmaceutical and surgical treatments carry risks and side effects, and when it comes to Crohn’s, there is no one-size-fits-all medication. I am skeptical about relying solely on pharmaceutical drugs for various reasons, which you can explore further by clicking HERE. Instead, I would recommend trying Functional Medicine.

Here’s How We Treat Crohn’s

Functional Medicine for Crohn’s

Instead of focusing solely on symptom suppression, Functional Medicine identifies and address the root causes of Crohn’s, providing a more comprehensive and individualized treatment strategy.

Functional Medicine testing plays a pivotal role in this approach. The stool analysis test is one such advanced diagnostic tool that contributes significantly to understanding the intricacies of Crohn’s disease. This comprehensive test assesses not only microbial DNA in the gut but also markers associated with inflammation and microbial imbalances, providing valuable insights into the gut microbiome composition. Often with Crohn’s disease there are very bad bacterial, fungal and or parasitic infections. This kind of testing is critical in finding and fixing these infections that can trigger Crohn’s.

Additionally, Functional Medicine testing extends beyond microbial analysis. It delves into the evaluation of toxins, such as mold, chemicals, and heavy metals, recognizing their potential role in triggering inflammation. This holistic perspective emphasizes the connection between reducing toxins and lowering inflammation, aligning with the principle that addressing underlying factors can lead to more sustainable improvements in Crohn’s symptoms.

Finally, often with Crohn’s and most inflammatory gut conditions there are critical nutritional deficiencies. When the gut is not healthy absorption of nutrients is impaired and consumption of nutrients is increased resulting in a lack of needed nutrients.

By combining the insights gained from Functional Medicine testing with targeted interventions, individuals with Crohn’s can work towards personalized treatment plans. These plans may include lifestyle modifications, dietary changes, and supplementation aimed at reducing inflammation and supporting overall gut health. While pharmaceutical and surgical options may still be part of the treatment strategy, Functional Medicine provides a more comprehensive and integrative approach to managing Crohn’s disease, focusing on improving the underlying factors that contribute to the condition rather than solely addressing its symptoms.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for Crohn’s

One treatment I will recommend for Crohn’s and potential Crohn’s patients is HBOT. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) involves breathing pure oxygen in a pressurized room or chamber. Research on HBOT for Crohn’s disease has shown its help in the managements of the disease. The increased oxygen levels under pressure helps reduce inflammation, promote tissue healing, and improve blood flow.

These inflammatory intestinal conditions have ulcerated, damaged tissue that needs to heal before the gut can return to a happy normal. HBOT is a powerful provoker of healing for the gut. Without this help healing can occur, but will be very slow.

If you live in Phoenix, Arizona, we would love to welcome you to our office. We have multiple state-of-the-art HBOT chambers that are both sitting and laying – perfect for people of all mobilities. Fill out the new patient form below to get started!

What foods are bad for Crohn’s?

Diet plays a crucial role in managing Crohn’s disease. While specific trigger foods can vary from person to person, common irritants include spicy foods, high-fiber foods, dairy products, and certain fruits and vegetables. Maintaining a food diary can help identify individual triggers.

Food Sensitivity Testing

Since knowing what foods are irritating your body can be difficult, testing may be needed to help figure it out. The MRT (Mediator Release Test) for food sensitivity is a diagnostic tool designed to identify specific foods and chemical triggers that may contribute to inflammatory responses in the body. Unlike traditional food allergy tests that measure IgE antibodies, the MRT test assesses changes in white blood cell activity in response to various foods and chemicals. It provides a comprehensive analysis of individualized reactions, categorizing items into reactive, moderately reactive, or non-reactive. The results aim to guide individuals in creating personalized elimination diets to manage inflammation and improve overall well-being.

How Can Our Office Help Your Journey with Crohn’s?

In conclusion, individuals battling Crohn’s disease are faced with a challenging journey, but there is hope and innovative support available. Functional Medicine, with its comprehensive testing and personalized treatment plans, offers a promising avenue for managing Crohn’s symptoms by addressing underlying issues. Additionally, the benefits of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) in mitigating inflammation and promoting healing present an exciting adjunctive option.

By combining the insights of functional medicine and exploring emerging therapies like HBOT, individuals with Crohn’s disease can work towards achieving a better quality of life and improved overall well-being.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is the life expectancy of a person with Crohn’s disease?

The life expectancy of individuals with Crohn’s disease is generally comparable to that of the general population. However, complications such as strictures, fistulas, and infections can impact prognosis. Timely diagnosis, appropriate treatment, and proactive management of the disease can contribute to a better quality of life.

What to expect when diagnosed with Crohn’s?

Upon receiving a diagnosis of Crohn’s disease, individuals may undergo further tests to determine the extent and severity of the condition. The healthcare team will work closely with the patient to develop a personalized treatment plan, including medication, lifestyle changes, and potential surgical interventions.

What are the triggers of Crohn’s disease?

While the exact cause of Crohn’s disease has not been scientifically proven, the functional medicine approach can identify many root causes that result in an inflamed damaged gut. These include genetic predisposition, infections in the gut, toxins, imbalance in gut bacteria and nutrient deficiencies.

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Darrell Kilcup, DC, CFMP

Hi there! I’m Dr. Kilcup. You know that health problem you’ve been dealing with – the one that doctors can’t seem to solve, that’s stealing way too much of your time, energy and joy? I can help you get to the bottom that. I am passionate about using the best of science and nutrition to find and fix root causes of health issues. Start your journey towards healing and relief today.

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I have been using the Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for the last few weeks and It has helped me so much. I struggle quite a bit with work related stress. When I'm in the chamber I feel completely relaxed, so much so that I can bring my laptop inside and work without stressing. The calmness I feel in the chamber lasts for the remainder of the day as well. I have found too, the more consistent I am with sessions throughout the week the better I feel. The office staff seems well trained in running the tanks too, so I feel safe. I see Dr. Kilcup as well for my brain and gut health. Until now, I don't think I've ever known what "normal" or "healthy" feels like. Thank you all, sincerely!
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Mike Kutz
6 months ago
Dr. Kilcup is a pleasure to work with. His office is beautiful! I can’t wait to try his hyperbaric chambers!
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Sarina Gomez
9 months ago
Darrell is highly knowledgeable and really gets to the root of the problem. Unlike a lot of doctors, Darrell doesn't just throw prescriptions at issues. He will test and test - digging for the cause and then working on fixing the issue. He and his staff are professional, courteous, and a joy to be around.
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Kevin Miller
1 year ago
I am very grateful to have found Dr. Kilcup and be his patient for the last couple of years. He has helped me restore my health back after being exposed to toxic mold for years. He helped identify and treat all of my symptoms I was experiencing and address the root problem. I was looking for the right person who could help me heal with natural therapies and supplements and Dr. Kilcup was the perfect fit. Every appointment and session was necessary and one step towards all the progress I made. Dr. Kilcup is a great functional medicine doctor who was also an advocate for my own health and well-being. I never received any care or attention to detail from other Doctors in past experiences except with Dr. Kilcup. Anyone who is seeking a holistic path towards healing or improving their own health should see him.
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