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How does Crohn’s Disease Relate to Incontinence?

What is Crohn’s Disease?

When your body is suffering form an infection, inflammation is the body’s immune system’s way of fighting off bacteria and virus, but usually when the those bacteria’s and viruses’ are destroyed, inflammation is automatically ‘switched off’. With Crohn’s disease, the inflammation doesn’t switch off, causing further damage to the digestive tract walls.

Symptoms

Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease causing symptoms including pain, swelling and redness in the digestive tract which can cause abdominal pain and diarrhea.

Other symptoms can include increased urgency of toilet use including diarrhea. People with Crohn’s disease can also experience cramping, fatigue, reduced appetite and weight loss. Symptoms come and go over time and the severity differs from person to person. Symptoms may also include blood and/or mucous in the stool, high temperatures, mouth ulcers and pain or swelling around the anus.

These symptoms can often lead to accidents and leave the person feeling embarrassed and uncomfortable. Which in turn adds unnecessary stress to a person and a reduction in their confidence and independence.

Causes and Risk Factors

Although the cause of Crohn’s disease is still unknown, several factors likely play a role in its development including heredity and a malfunctioning immune system. Other risk factors for Crohn’s disease can include age, ethnicity, family history, history of smoking and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications.

Complications

Some complications that can stem from Crohn’s disease include but are not limited to, ulcers, bowel obstruction, fistulas, malnutrition, colon cancer and blood clots. Please refer to your GP for more information or to voice any concerns you may have regarding any symptoms and complications associated with Crohn’s Disease.

How to deal with possible incontinence?

Being prepared is key to avoid embarrassment of any accidents that can occur. Being prepared is the difference between living life normally, keeping your independence, being socially active rather than hiding away being embarrassed and feeling like you’ve lost all control. When at home, a toilet is often highly accessible and accidents may be less relevant but finding a public tonight in time when out and about can be daunting. Keep spare, clean underwear in your bag and a packet of wipes to help stay fresh and comfortable. Keeping a plastic bag in your bag can also be handy for wet/soiled clothing. If you experience heavier soiling or more frequently requiring the toilet, wearing continence products like a liner or adult continence pants can offer security and contain any leaks.  

Treatment and Prevention

Although there is no cure for Crohn’s Disease, there are measures that can be taken to reduce symptoms and avoid embarrassment. Medication treatment, diet or nutrition therapy, surgery, reducing stress, quit smoking and being prepared when leaving the home.

It is important to discuss with your GP or medical professional your options before implementing any treatments or preventions so they can take into consideration your risk factors and tailor these to your individual situation and needs.

Resources

Crohn's disease - Symptoms and causes - Mayo Clinic

Colitis and Crohn's Disease - Bladder & Bowel Community (bladderandbowel.org)