On our Pediatric unit, we see a number of patients with Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis (UC). Some are well-established in their care, some are newly-diagnosed and just beginning treatment, and some are being seen by the doctor to explore if their symptoms warrant a definitive diagnosis of Crohn’s or UC. I interviewed one patient (referred to as our “Crohn’s Champion” for privacy) regarding his experience for the last 18 months since being diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease at 9 years old.
"I began experiencing heartburn symptoms in my mid-thirties and was in my forties when I first had GERD issues. My symptoms were aggravated greatly with menopause and grew progressively worse as the years went along. By the time I was 55 my reflux was something I dealt with when eating and drinking late at night. If I went to a party and ate rich foods in the evening, I often woke up a few hours after falling asleep with acid shooting up from my stomach and getting trapped in my throat..."
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a persistent inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal system affecting over one million Americans. Treatment of IBD often requires altering a patient’s immune response and can increase the risk for infectious complications. To help prevent this, the American Gastroenterological Association and the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation have published immunization guidelines for IBD patients. Despite these recommendations, less than half of IBD patients are up-to-date on their recommended immunizations. Studies show that the most common reason for missing vaccinations is the lack of awareness that immunizations are safe and recommended.
When you’re not feeling well, sometimes it’s hard to know where to turn. As the Nurse Navigator with Swedish Digestive Health Network, I get these calls every day. Below are a few tips to help you advocate for yourself if you are not feeling well. (Remember to first and foremost get established with a primary care doctor before you become ill!)
1. If you’re not feeling well:
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is the most common disorder of the upper gastrointestinal track, affecting nearly 40% of the American population. Antisecretory medications such as omeprazole are the mainstay of treatment, but 40% of patients have incomplete control of symptoms. While surgical repair (fundoplication) is highly effective, only 1% of patients have an operation, leaving a large group of individuals incompletely treated.
The Stretta procedure is another option to treat GERD.
Diarrhea can quickly deplete the body's supply of water and electrolytes (such as sodium and potassium) that tissues need to function.
As a pediatric gastroenterologist, I’m often asked whether there is any way to prevent a child from developing celiac disease. Based on what I knew regarding how food allergies develop, I used to counsel families that there might be a “window of opportunity”, between four and six months, when it’s possible to introduce grains and other gluten-containing foods that could potentially “teach” the immune system to tolerate gluten and thus lower the risk of developing celiac disease.
However, my “window theory” recently got thrown out the window when the results of two important scientific studies were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.