Jeff Hordley, 49, is one of Emmerdale’s longest serving actors, having joined the soap back in 2000 as Cain Dingle. What fans of the show may not know is that four years prior to joining, Jeff was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, a lifelong condition in which parts of the digestive system become inflamed. The star has been vocal about his condition over the years, revealing the initial symptoms that alerted him to the condition and how he has come to terms with it.
Last year, viewers were afforded a different perspective into his chronic health battle, when his wife and co-star Zoe Henry, 45, who plays Rhona Goskirk, opened up her husband’s 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’s sort of changed our lives.”
Zoe went on to highlight an activity that has helped Jeff to manage his Crohn’s disease – working on their allotment.
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Jeff Hordley health: Emmerdale star’s wife Zoe Henry opens up about his Crohn’s disease
She said: “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.”
As Zoe explained, in addition to boosting his health, the activity also brings the family together.
How did Jeff first discover he had Crohn’s disease?
Speaking to Express.co.uk in 2009, Jeff revealed he would often grapple with sickness, fatigue and spells of weight loss in his university days.
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The symptoms had a profound impact on his education at the time, forcing him to miss lectures and drop out of plays due to the fatigue.
The actor was diagnosed with the condition after being referred by his GP to a specialist at Manchester Royal Infirmary.
It was then the specialist spotted his symptoms immediately.
According to the NHS, Jeff’s initial symptoms are commonly associated with Crohn’s disease.
Crohn’s disease: Stomach cramps or aches is a warning sign
People with Crohn’s disease may also experience:
- Diarrhoea – which may come on suddenly
- Stomach aches and cramps – most often in the lower-right part of the tummy
- Blood in faeces
“The symptoms may be constant or may come and go every few weeks or months. When they come back, it’s called a flare-up,” explained the health site.
How to treat Crohn’s disease
As the NHS points out, there’s no cure for Crohn’s disease, but treatment can help reduce or control your symptoms.
The main treatments are:
- Medicines to reduce inflammation in the digestive system – usually steroid tablets
- Medicines to stop the inflammation coming back – either tablets or injections
- Surgery to remove a small part of the digestive system – sometimes this may be a better treatment option than medicines
Along with prescribed forms of therapy, Jeff’s story attests to the importance of eating a healthy diet.
According to Mayo Clinic, changes in your diet and lifestyle may help control your symptoms and lengthen the time between flare-ups.
Certain foods and beverages may aggravate your signs and symptoms, especially during a flare-up, explains the health body.
“Many people with inflammatory bowel disease find that problems such as diarrhoea, abdominal pain and gas improve by limiting or eliminating dairy products,” it says.