Crohn’s disease is a disorder that causes inflammation of the digestive tract. The disease can affect any area of the Gastrointestinal (GI) tract, from the mouth to the anus. The lower part of the small intestine, called the ileum, is most often affected.
Inflammatory bowel disease is the general name for diseases that cause swelling in the intestines. Crohn’s disease if an inflammatory bowel disease. Crohns’ disease can occur in people of all ages, but is more often diagnosed in people between the ages of 20 and 30.
There are many theories about the causes of Crohn’s disease, none of which are proven. The human immune system is made from cells and different proteins that protect people from infection. It may be an immune response. There is some research that indicates that Crohn’s may have a genetic link (ccfa.org).
Symptoms of Crohn’s disease include abdominal pain, diarrhea, rectal bleeding, weight loss, arthritis, skin problems and fever. The bleeding may be serious and persistent, leading to anemia. Children with Crohn’s disease may suffer form delayed development and stunted growth.
A thorough physical exam and medical tests may be required to diagnose Crohn’s disease. Medical tests may include: blood tests, stools samples, Upper GI series with barium and X-rays and visual exams such as sigmoidoscopty or colonoscopy and biopsy.
There are many possible complications of the disease. The most common complication of Crohns disease is blockage of the intestine as the disease thickens the intestinal wall with swelling and scar tissue. There may also be sores, ulcers, fistulas and fissures in the intestinal lining. Deficiencies of nutrients may occur due to intestinal loss of protein, poor absorption or malabsorption. Deficiencies of proteins, calories and vitamins are well documented. Additional complications include arthritis, skin problems, inflammation of the eyes or mouth, kidney stones, gallstones or diseases of the liver and biliary systems.
After diagnosing Crohn’s disease, doctors can determine the best treatment options for an individual Treatment may include drugs, nutrition supplements, surgery or a combination of these options. Treatment goals are to control inflammation, correct nutritional deficiencies and relieve unpleasant symptoms. Treatment can help to control the disease, but there is no known cure.
Treatment options include drug therapy, nutrition supplements and surgery.
Drug therapy includes anti-inflammation drugs, cortisone or steroids, immune system suppressors, Infliximab (Remicade), antibiotics and anti-diarrheal and fluid replacements Most people are first treated with drugs containing mesalimine, which helps control inflammation. Steroids and cortisone can provide effective results. Prednisone is a common generic same for the drugs in this group of medications. While effective, corticosteroids can cause serious side effect, such as bone thinning and greater susceptibility to infection. Immune system suppressors block the immune reaction that contribute to inflammation. Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine. Additional medication and electrolyte replacement may be needed to treat dehydration caused by diarrhea.
The doctor may recommend nutritional supplements to replace lost nutrition. High calories liquid formulas may be used for this purpose. Some patients may need to be fed intravenously for a brief time, to rest the intestines.
Surgery becomes necessary in a large percentage of patients when medications can no longer control symptoms. Surgery to remove part of the intestine can help people with Crohn’s disease, but is not a cure.
It is very important for people with Crohn’s disease to follow a nutritious diet and avoid any foods that seem to worsen symptoms. Crohn’s disease is associated with diarrhea and poor absorption of necessary nutrients. No special diet has been proven effective for the prevention and treatment of Crohn’s disease.
There is no indication that stress causes Crohn’s disease. However, people suffering from Crohn’s disease sometimes feel increased stress as a result of having the disease. Some patients experience a flare of disease when under a stressful event or situation. For people who feel that there is a relationship between stress and symptoms, relaxations techniques, such as slow breathing and getting enough sleep may help them feel better.
The information in this article is not intended as medical advice. If you have a medical condition, consult a physician.