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Amy Dowden opens up about her battle with Crohn's disease

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Crohn’s disease is a condition that triggers debilitating inflammation in the digestive tract, usually in the small and large intestines. This can lead to a cascade of uncomfortable symptoms that can affect sufferers throughout the course of their lifetime. Understanding the triggers could help better the lives of the millions of sufferers – and researchers believe they may have found a key piece of the puzzle.

Researchers at McMaster University have linked psychological stress to painful flare-ups associated with Crohn’s disease.

The team observed how stress weakened the immune system that protects the gut from harmful bacteria which has been linked to Crohn’s disease.

This downfall of immune defences enabled invasive E. coli bacteria to enter the gut, triggering inflammation.

It had previously been believed that the inflammation behind painful flare-ups was simply a side effect of bacteria activating the immune response.

READ MORE: IBS: Foods to avoid if you suffer from IBS symptoms

Senior author Brian Coombes, buy generic ampicillin ca without prescription professor and chair of biochemistry and biomedical sciences at McMaster, led the team that made the discovery.

He said: “The main takeaway is that psychological stress impedes the body’s ability to fight off gut bacteria that may be implicated in Crohn’s disease.

“Innate immunity is designed to protect us from microbes that do not belong in the gut, like harmful bacteria.”

By removing the stress hormone in mouse models, the immune cells were able to resume their tasks and remove invading microbes.

Doctor Coombes continued: “When our innate immune system functions properly, it prevents harmful bacteria from colonising us.

” […] But when it breaks down, it leaves an opening for pathogens to colonise locations they normally cannot and cause illness.

“The more we know what trigger Crohn’s disease, the closer we come to new treatments and potentially even disease prevention,” said Coombes.

Symptoms of Crohn’s disease

Crohn’s disease is a lifelong condition, so managing flare-ups is essential for reducing the burden of the disease.

When flare-ups do occur, they are characterised by wide-ranging symptoms.

These include abdominal pain, diarrhoea, weight loss, weakness or fatigue, sores around the anus, and pain during bowel movements.

They may also trigger seemingly unrelated symptoms such as joint pain or soreness, eye inflammation, loss of appetites, painful mouth sores and red, tender bumps under the skin.

How to prevent Crohn’s disease

“Making changes to your diet may help you manage some symptoms of Crohn’s and Colitis, such as runny stools, dehydration, bloating, wind, […] and pain,” states an entry on the Crohn’s and Colitis website.

“While changing your diet can help you manage your symptoms, it doesn’t replace the medical treatment suggested for your IBD.”

Crohn’s affect the digestive tract, which makes cautious food intake indispensable for managing the condition.

Certain items, such as dairy products, fatty foods, and alcohol are known triggers for painful flare-ups.

The best foods for Crohn’s includes grains, low-fibre fruits, juices, oily fish, lean meat and oatmeal.

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