Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Regional Enteritis Home Care

Home care for Crohn's disease includes:

  • Drink plenty of liquids:
  • Follow a regular Crohn's disease diet:
    • The first step is to identify which foods trigger your symptoms. Once you have done this, you can create a diet that contains nutritious foods that you enjoy.
    • A food diary is a great way to determine what foods trigger your symptoms. To start you diary, record the foods you eat each day in a notebook and then enter any symptoms that you develop after eating this food.
    • Share your food diary with your doctor so he or she can make sure you are getting enough calories.
    • Share your food diary with a dietician so he or she can create a nutritious diet filled with tasty foods you can tolerate.
    • Ask your doctor about a diet high in omega-3-fatty acids. Some may benefit from this diet.
  • Take your Crohn's disease medications regularly:
    • Taking your Crohn's disease medications is the most important thing you can do to help control your symptoms of Crohn's.
    • Taking your medications as prescribed can reduce your risk for complications, such as intestinal obstruction, malnutrition, and dehydration.
    • Taking your medications regularly can reduce your need for repeated surgeries.
    • Contact your doctor if you do not understand your Crohn's disease medications
    • Contact your doctor if you have run out of your medication.
    • Tell your doctor if you are taking any additional medications or supplements, because some medications may interfere with your Crohn's disease medications.
    • Do not take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications unless prescribed by your doctor
    • Do not take aspirin unless prescribed by your doctor
    • Become familiar with the potential side effects of your medications
  • Ask your doctor about vitamins:
    • Having Crohn's puts you at risk for developing a vitamin deficiency.
    • Every patient with Crohn's is different: talk to your doctor about which vitamins are right for you.
  • Avoid alcohol:
    • Alcohol usually worsens the symptoms of Crohn's.
    • Alcohol can also increase your risk for bleeding.
    • Ask your doctor for recommendations regarding alcohol.
  • Stop smoking:
    • Smoking can worsen your symptoms.
    • Smoking can decrease the effectiveness of your medications.
    • Smoking can increase your risk for needing surgery.
  • Reduce anxiety and stress:
    • Anxiety and stress can make your symptoms harder to control.
    • Speak with your doctor if your anxiety lasts for longer than a month.
  • Control depression:
    • Depression is common in Crohn's disease, but if your depression becomes severe or lasts for longer than 2 weeks, it may be time to talk to your doctor.
  • Get regular exercise:

Regional Enteritis Abdominal Pain Adults

Home care for abdominal pain in adults with Crohn's disease includes:

  • Avoid spicy foods, alcohol, and caffeine
  • Stop smoking
  • Avoid exposure to secondary smoke
  • Avoid enemas and laxatives.
  • Try a heating pad or hot water bottle on the abdomen, or a warm bath.
  • Drink clear liquids only and avoid dairy products for 24 hours. Then slowly advance to a soft diet before returning to solid foods.
  • For vomiting, take small but constant sips of water until vomiting stops.
  • Lie down and rest.
  • Try an antacid medication such as Maalox or Mylanta.
  • Take any prescription medications as directed.
  • Use acetaminophen for pain control. Avoid aspirin and ibuprofen.

Regional Enteritis Abdominal Pain Children

Home care for abdominal pain in children with Crohn's disease includes:

  • Avoid aspirin, spicy foods and caffeine.
  • Avoid exposing the child to cigarette smoke.
  • Avoid enemas and laxatives.
  • Try a heating pad or hot water bottle on the abdomen, or a warm bath.
  • Drink clear liquids only and avoid dairy products for 24 hours. Then slowly advance to a soft diet before returning to solid foods.
  • For vomiting, take small but constant sips of water until vomiting stops.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Children over the age of 12 can try an acid-blocker medicine like Zantac, Pepcid, or Tagamet.
  • Try an antacid medication such as Maalox or Mylanta.
  • Take any prescription medications as directed.
  • Use acetaminophen for pain control. Avoid aspirin and ibuprofen.

Regional Enteritis Anal Problems

Home care for anal problems in someone with Crohn's disease includes:

  • Ask your pharmacist for a nonprescription hemorrhoid product to relieve pain and itching.
  • Avoid a lot of wiping after a bowel movement. Wiping with soft, moist toilet paper (or a commercial moist pad or baby wipe) may relieve discomfort.
  • Avoid lifting heavy objects if you have hemorrhoids.
  • Exercise regularly to avoid becoming constipated.
  • High fiber foods such as fruits and vegetables are usually helpful to regulate the bowels, but may cause problems in some people with Crohn's disease.
  • If you have hard stools, try a nonprescription stool softener. Softer stools can make it easier to empty the bowels and lessen pressure on the veins.
  • Try not to strain during bowel movements. Allow yourself adequate time to use the bathroom and don't rush.
  • Try soaks in a warm tub (sitz baths) several times a day.

Regional Enteritis Diarrhea in Adults

Home treatment of diarrhea in adults with Crohn's disease includes hydration and dietary therapy.

Hydration
Those who are able to drink liquids can restore lost water and salt with oral rehydration therapy (ORT).

ORT fluids are usually used in children, but are also effective for adults. These include:

  • Infalyte
  • Lytren
  • Naturalyte
  • Pedialyte
  • Rehydralyte
  • ReVital
  • Generic drugstore brands

Additional ORT fluids include:
  • Soft drinks without caffeine
  • Sports drinks (Gatorade)
  • Tea
  • Water

Dietary Therapy
ORT is most important if you have vomiting with the diarrhea. Once vomiting and nausea resolves, eat bland foods first. If you tolerate bland food, then you can resume a normal diet.

Foods that may help diarrhea:
  • Applesauce
  • Bananas
  • Bread
  • Cereal
  • Crackers
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Noodles
  • Oatmeal
  • Potatoes
  • Rice
  • Strained carrots
  • Wheat
  • Yogurt

Items that may worsen diarrhea include:
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Concentrated fruit juices
  • High-sugar foods (junk food)
  • Cow's milk
  • Spicy foods
  • Sugar substitutes

Regional Enteritis Diarrhea in Children

Home treatment of diarrhea in children with Crohn's disease includes hydration and dietary therapy.

Hydration
Those who are able to drink liquids can restore lost water and salt with oral rehydration therapy (ORT).

ORT fluids used in children include:

  • Infalyte
  • Lytren
  • Naturalyte
  • Pedialyte
  • Rehydralyte
  • ReVital
  • Generic drugstore brands

Additional ORT fluids for older children include:
  • Soft drinks without caffeine
  • Sports drinks (Gatorade)
  • Tea
  • Water

Strategies for breast-fed infants under 6 months include:
  • Continue breast feeding as much as your baby desires.
  • Provide additional ORT fluids to supplement breast milk.
  • If vomiting occurs, provide small amounts of ORT fluids every 30-60 minutes.
  • Prevent diaper rash by changing diapers frequently and apply Vaseline to the skin.
  • Watch for symptoms of dehydration.

Strategies for bottle-fed infants under 6 months:
  • Give your child normal amounts of formula.
  • Provide as much ORT fluids as your baby desires.
  • If vomiting occurs, provide small amounts of ORT fluids every 30-60 minutes.
  • If vomiting occurs, try a lactose-free formula.
  • Prevent diaper rash by changing diapers frequently and apply Vaseline to the skin.
  • Watch for symptoms of dehydration.

Strategies for children over 6 months:

Dietary Therapy
ORT is most important if you have vomiting with the diarrhea. Once vomiting and nausea resolves, provide bland foods first. If bland foods are tolerated, then you resume a normal diet.

Foods that may help diarrhea:
  • Applesauce
  • Bananas
  • Bread
  • Cereal
  • Crackers
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Noodles
  • Oatmeal
  • Potatoes
  • Rice
  • Strained carrots
  • Wheat
  • Yogurt

Items that may worsen diarrhea include:
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Concentrated fruit juices
  • High-sugar foods junk food
  • Cow's milk
  • Spicy foods
  • Sugar substitutes

Regional Enteritis Liquid Diet

When symptoms of Crohn's disease are bad, your doctor may recommend a liquid diet for a short period of time.

There are two main types of liquid diets:


Clear Liquid Diet
Clear liquids are liquids you can see through. Clear liquids can also contain some nutrition, but are usually not adequate to support the body's energy needs for more than a few days. Clear liquids are easily absorbed by the intestines. Liquids remove the stress on the intestines.

Clear liquids include:
  • Bouillon soup
  • Coffee
  • Broth
  • Fruit juices without pulp
  • Gelatin
  • Popsicles (no pulp)
  • Soft drinks
  • Sports drinks (e.g. Gatorade)
  • Tea
  • Water

Full Liquid Diet
This type of diet lies between a solid diet and clear liquids. It is often used by someone who is tolerating clear liquids, but cannot tolerate solid food. A full liquid diet can safely sustain the body for long periods of time.

Full liquids include:
  • Cream of wheat
  • Fruit juices
  • Honey
  • Jelly
  • Milk, milkshakes and ice cream
  • Nutrition supplement drinks, such as Ensure or Boost
  • Pureed meats
  • Pureed vegetables
  • Soups without solids
  • Syrups
  • Vegetable juices
  • Yogurt and pudding

Regional Enteritis Taking Control

The successful treatment of Crohn's disease requires your participation. Here are answers to some important questions.

Do you have control over your health and wellness?
Many people believe they have no control over their health and wellness. Many ignore personal health decisions or simply leave them to their doctors, relatives, or friends. In reality, you have the greatest potential to determine your relative health.

How is this possible? Do people really have control of their own health? The biggest killers are heart disease and cancer. Although many of these diseases seem to strike at random, our lifestyle choices greatly influence personal risk.

How can you participate in your health care?
To participate you must:

  • Learn to take responsibility for your own health.
  • Learn to partner with your doctor.
  • Learn how to make active decisions about your health.

How can you learn what you need to know?
  • Educate yourself.
  • Be skeptical: Learn to separate fact from fiction.
  • Billions of dollars are spent each year marketing dietary supplements, vitamins, and new medical treatments. Much of this is unnecessary and wasteful.
  • Be careful about where you get your health information.
    • Some of the best sources for health information on the web are professional societies and non-profit organizations.
    • Ask your doctor what he or she recommends.
  • Examine the credentials of the authors.
    • If you are reading about symptoms and disease, your best source is a licensed physician.
    • Pay attention to when the content was last updated.
    • Make sure the person is not just trying to sell you something.

Important questions you need to answer:
  • What things in your control can increase your risk for disease?
  • What can you do to decrease this risk?
  • What are vaccines and how can they help you?
  • How do your lifestyle choices increase your risk for disease?
  • How can you reduce stress?
  • What minor health problems can you treat at home?
  • When is a medical problem "serious"?
  • When should you call the doctor?

How can you find the right doctor?
Key points:
  • Everyone should have a primary care physician or family doctor. A primary physician is usually a family practitioner, internist, or pediatrician.
  • Establish a relationship in advance with your doctor.
  • Make sure you are comfortable with your primary care physician.
  • The internet contains many resources where you can do research to locate the doctor that is best for you.
  • You may wish to schedule a brief visit with the doctor to see if he or she is right for you.
    • Be open-minded, and allow your doctor to know you well. This will improve communication.

Important information you need to make your decision:
  • Physician credentials:
    • Internship and residency training is usually best from respected institutions, universities, and major hospitals.
    • Look for board certification in the specialty.
    • Ask about membership in medical societies.
  • Community and professional reputation are also important.
    • Are other patients happy with the doctor?
    • Has the doctor been disciplined by hospitals or agencies?
    • How long has the doctor been in practice?
    • In general, more than a few malpractice suits over a 5-10 year period should trigger caution.
  • Does the doctor communicate well? Are your questions answered during busy times?
  • Does the doctor welcome you to help make decisions about your care?
  • Is the doctor available when you need care?
  • What is the doctor's after-hours coverage?
  • Is he or she a member of a large group?
    • Do the doctors' cross-cover one another?
  • Where do they admit patients?

What is shared decision making?
You and your doctor must work together to jointly decide the best course of action to manage your health. This process is called "shared decision making". Your doctor becomes a guide and teacher and helps steer you toward the best treatment. Most doctors welcome this partnership. You must learn about your illnesses for shared decision-making to work.

For any recommended test, medication, or surgery, remember to ask:
  • How will this help me?
  • How much will it cost?
  • Is it covered by your insurance?
  • What are the potential side effects and risks?
  • What are my alternatives?

For tests, remember to ask:
  • Is it done in the office or at another facility?
  • Is it painful?
  • How will the results of this test influence my care?

For surgery or other procedures, remember to ask:
  • How long will it take to heal?
  • How many cases has the doctor done?
  • What would your doctor do if he or she were the patient?
  • Where is it done?
  • Who will perform it?
  • What are the doctor's qualifications?

What should you expect?
Shared decision making becomes impossible if you do not know what to expect from your doctor.

The American Hospital Association has published a "Patient's Bill of Rights" that is a good guide. It states that you have the right:
  • To be spoken to in words that you understand
  • To be told what's wrong with you
  • To know the benefits of any treatment and any alternatives
  • To know what a treatment or test will cost
  • To share in treatment decisions
  • To read your medical record
  • To refuse any medical procedure

What should you do before an office visit?
  • Bring all important medical information with you to the visit.
  • Make sure you can answer questions about the following:
    • Allergies and side effects to medicines
    • Current medicines you are taking. This includes herbs and vitamins. Make a list if necessary.
    • Insurance information
    • Marital and sexual history
    • Past injuries and hospital stays
    • Past medical problems
    • Past surgeries and operations
    • Pre-visit questionnaires
    • Use of tobacco, alcohol and drugs
    • Work history

What should you expect from the visit?
  • You should plan to wait if you go without an appointment. Emergencies or sick patients in the hospital may interrupt your doctor.
  • Bring along a book or toys for the kids. You may also have to wait during busy times.
  • Tell your doctor about your problem in a clear manner. Start from the beginning and go through each symptom as it appeared.
  • Before the visit, think about what makes your problem better or worse. Your doctor will probably ask you questions about this.
  • Most doctors ask many questions about unrelated symptoms. These questions help assure that there are no other problems that need attention.
  • Be sure to answer all questions truthfully. This includes sensitive questions about smoking, drug use, sexual activity, and work. Your history is the most important part of deciding what is wrong with you.
  • If you have any difficulty communicating your concerns, bring a family member or friend to assist in this task.
  • Talk to your doctor and do not leave the office without asking necessary questions. Your doctor can make you more comfortable if he or she understands your concerns.

What should you know about your medications?
Every year many people become ill because of problems with medications.

Remember to ask:
  • What side effects to expect.
  • What drug interactions are possible.
    • Find out if a new medicine reacts with those that you are taking now.
    • Many over-the-counter drugs and dietary supplements can also cause serious side effects and drug interactions.
    • Some drugs interact with certain foods, vitamins, nicotine, and alcohol.
  • Make sure you can drive or operate machines safely while taking a medicine.
  • Ask your doctor how much a prescription costs.
    • Is there a less expensive option or a generic version?

What is a treatment plan?
A treatment plan is what you and your doctor decide to do for an illness. A treatment plan cannot be effective without your participation.

Three simple questions can help you get the most from your treatment plan:
  • What is my main problem?
  • What do I need to do?
  • Why is it important for me to do these things?

Other important points:
  • Be sure you understand your treatment plan.
  • Stick with the treatment plan and allow time for improvement.
  • Don't stop medicines when you feel better; check with your doctor first.
  • Call your doctor if your condition is becoming worse.
  • Your doctor should tell you what to expect and when to follow-up or call the office.

Regional Enteritis Warning Signs

Notify your doctor if you have Crohn's disease and any of the following:

Continue to Regional Enteritis Outlook

Last Updated: Oct 21, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Regional Enteritis References
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  2. Marrero F, Qadeer MA, Lashner BA. Severe complications of inflammatory bowel disease. Med Clin North Am. 2008 May;92(3):671-86. [18387381]
  3. McKaig BC, Stack WA. Novel approaches to inflammatory bowel disease. Expert Opin Investig Drugs. 1998 Jul;7(7):1099-113. [15992018]
  4. Petros JG. Crohn's disease update. Curr Surg. 2000 March - April;57(2):95-103. [16093037]
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