Jeff Hordley health: Wife Zoe Henry opens up about soap star’s lifelong health condition

These are the symptoms of Crohn's disease

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Jeff Hordley has portrayed the bad boy Cain Dingle in the ITV soap opera Emmerdale for over two decades but the man behind the role is decidedly more compassionate. Hordley has campaigned vigorously to raise awareness about Crohn’s disease, a condition he has lived with since his teens. A few years back, his wife, Zoe Henry, also advanced the conversation by discussing her husband’s chronic condition.

Speaking on the daytime show Loose Women, Zoe said: “He was diagnosed when he was about 18, so he was 23 when I met him, and it sort of changed our lives.”

Zoe described the coping mechanisms Jeff has devised to manage his Crohn’s disease.

According to the soap star’s wife, cultivating his allotment has helped Jeff immeasurably.

“There’s a lot to be said about mental health and having your hands in the soil – that’s a big one for me.

“For Jeff, it’s the health benefits of eating what we’ve grown.”

In addition to directly benefiting his health condition, the activity also brings the family together, Zoe added.

What is Crohn’s disease?

According to the NHS, “Crohn’s disease is a lifelong condition where parts of the digestive system become inflamed”.

It affects people of all ages, although the symptoms usually start in childhood or early adulthood, notes the health body.

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What are the symptoms?

Signs and symptoms of Crohn’s disease can range from mild to severe.

According to the Mayo Clinic, “they usually develop gradually, but sometimes will come on suddenly, without warning”.

As the health body notes, you may also have periods of time when you have no signs or symptoms (remission).

When the disease is active, signs and symptoms may include:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Abdominal pain and cramping
  • Blood in your stool
  • Mouth sores
  • Reduced appetite and weight loss
  • Pain or drainage near or around the anus due to inflammation from a tunnel into the skin (fistula).

A combination of treatment options can help manage the disease and ensure a good quality of life.

Each patient’s situation is different and treatment must be tailored to the patient’s needs.

“Treatment for Crohn’s disease and other IBD varieties can include the use of medication, alterations in diet and nutrition, and sometimes surgical procedures to repair or remove affected portions of your GI tract,” explains the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation.

According to the charity, “paying special attention to your diet may help reduce symptoms, replace lost nutrients, and promote healing”.

The health body explains: “Many people who experience Crohn’s disease flare ups find that soft, bland foods cause less discomfort than spicy or high-fibre foods.

“While your diet can remain flexible and should include a variety of foods from all food groups, your doctor will likely recommend restricting your intake of dairy if you are found to be lactose-intolerant.”

According to the NHS, if you think a particular food is triggering your symptoms, see if avoiding it helps.

“But do not make any big changes to your diet without speaking to your GP or care team first.”

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