I’ve lived 60 years and I believe the worst discomfort I have experienced with this disease is cramping, especially when you are in public and have no place to go for privacy. You can tough through most aches and pains, including headaches, but when you have a severe cramp you have a problem. The worst of these types of cramps can be provided by Crohn’s Disease.
There are a number of different conditions associated with the bowel. They include Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is simply an alternative clenching and relaxing of the bowel causing cramping and occasional diarrhea and constipation.
Ulcerative Colitis is primarily a condition of the large intestine that causes diarrhea and bleeding. It is somewhat common and is often effectively treated with steroids and diet. It has components of an immune system failure.
However the condition we are looking at is Crohn’s Disease.
What is Crohn’s Disease?
Crohn’s Disease is a digestive system illness that involves swelling and inflammation of the digestive tract. It is probably as a result of the immune system mistakenly thinking that bacteria and foods are invaders and as a result dispatching white blood cells against them inadvertently attacking the person’s own body.
Historically the treatments have been steroids and when the situation was more serious it may even have required surgery.
Unfortunately the treatments, besides often being very uncomfortable, were not easy to live with and did precious little to stop the symptoms. This brings us back to the fact that it is difficult to live with the symptoms of Crohn’s Disease.
There are some new treatments for Crohn’s Disease.
There is a new drug that blocks an inflammation-causing molecule called tumor necrosis factor (TNF). Remicade and Humira are anti-TNF drugs that have been approved by the FDA. These drugs help about 50 percent of the people who try them.
Following this logic, researchers went straight to the concept of blocking white blood cells from moving to inflamed tissues. They came up with a medication called Tysabri.
Unfortunately Tysabri can have serious and deadly side effects
There is one final approach and that is to employ immune molecules that are termed interleukins. This procedure has been the most effective working short-term 75 percent of the time and boasting a 50 percent long-term success rate.
While this treatment is not yet a public treatment, it is in the final clinical trials.
This is the most promising approach.
Crohn’s Disease most often hits people in their 20s. It can ruin an entire life. It can cause embarrassment not just from social cramping and other symptoms but surgeries can leave people with hard-to-manage functions.
In its most severe form Crohn’s Disease can block the bowel and cause severe inflammation.
Crohn’s Disease is a terrible condition. However, it would appear that there is some hope on the horizon.
“Living with Crohn’s Disease,” Fact Sheet, NIH News in Health Page 3, March 2008