Crohn's Disease Life Expectancy: Will Your Life Be Shorter?
Life Expectancy with Crohn’s Disease
After I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease, the first thing I wanted to know from my doctor was whether or not this disease was going to kill me. My second question was what kind of life I would be able to live.
Crohn's disease is a condition that causes inflammation of the intestines; it can affect the entire gastrointestinal tract, which starts at the mouth and ends at the anus. The small bowel and the colon are the areas of the body most often affected.
Symptoms may include diarrhea, cramping, abdominal pain, fever, vomiting, blood in the stool, constipation, skin problems, and fatigue. All of these symptoms may be present, but you probably wouldn't have them all at one time.
Until patients are reassured by the statistics, the questions regarding life expectancy are a concern. Fortunately, most don't need to worry about having a shortened life expectancy, although there are dos and don'ts (see below).
Q: Will Crohn's Disease Kill Me?
A: Probably not. Although Crohn's will certainly affect the quality of your life, it probably won't shorten it.
Crohn's Disease: How Long Will I Live?
In the last 50 years, there have been important advances in the diagnosis and treatment of Crohn's. The danger of life-threatening complications, such as with toxic megacolon, is less than 1%.
The risk of death from a severe attack of Crohn's was as high as 30 to 60% in the 1950s, but the risk today has diminished to below 3%.
With the use of natural treatments, many people have also been able to get symptoms under control naturally. Using such things as diet, exercise, and stress-controlling techniques can give you full control over your health.
You and I needn't worry that we won't enjoy a normal lifespan because it is extremely likely that we will. Although dealing with the disease can be frightening, and your life will be changed by it, if you do what you can to manage and monitor your symptoms, you won't have to worry about being here for a shorter amount of time. You have every reason to expect to live a long life.
There are, however, exceptions and complications. Below, you'll find tips for managing the disease and a list of the rarer side effects and complications of Crohn's which could affect the length of life.
How to Prolong Life with Crohn's
- Exercise regularly.
- Stop smoking.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Eat a balanced, healthy, a high-calorie diet that's low in fat. Avoid red meat and pork. Steer away from dairy of you're lactose-intolerant. It's preferable to eat many small meals than a few large ones. Some benefit from a low fiber diet.
- Keep track of which foods trigger a flare-up and which don't. Avoid the foods that trigger symptoms.
- Eliminate caffeine.
- Avoid alcohol (especially if you're taking antibiotics).
- Take all your medications as prescribed. Don't take less or skip doses.
- If you take an over-the-counter pain reliever, choose Tylenol, not aspirin, ibuprofen (Motrin), or naproxen sodium (Aleve) which can increase inflammation.
- Pay careful attention to symptoms and side effects. Talk to your doctor regularly.
Complications with Crohn's
- The side effects of medications. There is an extensive list of medications used to treat the disease, and the list of side effects is even longer. It's important that you pay close attention to your symptoms and talk to your doctor.
- The reduced efficacy of medications over time. Your theraputic needs may change over time, so it's important to remain vigilant.
- There's increased risk of bowel or colon cancer with Crohn's. Ask your doctor if you are up-to-date in all your tests.
- The likelihood of surgery: About 70% with the disease eventually require surgery.