Unfortunately, complications from Crohn's disease are common. Knowing what to expect, however, helps you cope. Complications can be divided into two broad categories. Local complications directly affect the GI tract, while systemic complications occur in other parts of the body.

Local complications

There are several common complications that often accompany Crohn's, such as perforations of the intestinal wall, abscesses, fistulas, fissures and ulcers. Fistulas are abnormal tunnels connecting two body cavities or a body cavity to the skin, and fissures are tiny tears. Fortunately, most of these complications can be controlled with diet, supplements and medications.

Long-time Crohn's patients are susceptible to osteoporosis, which causes weak or brittle bones, and is most likely caused by a deficiency in vitamin K. Vitamin K helps calcium bind to bones. The most common complication caused by Crohn's is an obstruction or narrowing of the colon. Usually patients require surgery to have the diseased portion of the colon removed.

Eating a diet low in fat, sugar and processed foods helps, and, of course, you should avoid or limit known trigger foods.

Systemic complications

Proper nutrition is extremely important when you have Crohn's. Inflammation along the digestive tract reduces its ability to absorb nutrients such as proteins, calories and vitamins. Malabsorption is associated with weight loss and reduced muscle mass.

Many other systemic complications occur because inflammation in the intestines also produces inflammation in other parts of the body. Crohn's patients may also experience blood infections, gallstones, eye infections or inflammation, mouth and gum ulcers, liver damage, blot clots and anemia.

Some of these adjunct problems are relieved during the course treatment for Crohn's. Increasing your intake of fish oil may help reduce inflammation and provide some relief. So will proper hydration. Be sure you consume plenty of fluids. Vitamin K supplements can relieve bone and joint pain and arthritis caused by inflammation.

Crohn's is a chronic disease that can cause periods of pain and discomfort. Although patients may go into remission and feel better for a while, the disease never completely goes away. It's easy to understand how someone living with Crohn's could become depressed or anxious.

However, stress causes changes in the digestive process that may actually trigger symptoms or make them worse. Learning to manage stress and anxiety can make a big difference in how you feel. Fortunately, there are many easy ways to reduce stress.

Meditation, yoga, deep breathing exercises, and alternative medicine such as acupuncture all help you relax and feel a sense of peacefulness. Exercise is also highly effective in reducing stress and depression. Find a physical activity you enjoy and you'll even look forward to it. If you like massages, but believe they are merely a luxury, there's good news. Massage is very effective at reducing stress and pain, and even promotes healing, so go ahead and indulge. Consider it an investment in your health!

While there's no cure for Crohn's disease, you can take deliberate steps to prevent or minimize symptoms. You'll feel better overall, which in turn will improve your ability to manage the disease.