What exactly is crohn’s disease?
The disease is named after American gastroenterologist Dr. Burrill Crohn (1884-1983). Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disorder (IBD). It causes swelling (inflammation) of the tissues in your digestive tract, which can result in abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss, and malnutrition. Crohn’s disease-related inflammation can affect different parts of the digestive tract in different people, most commonly the small intestine. This inflammation frequently spreads into the bowel’s deeper layers. Crohn’s disease can be painful and debilitating, and it can sometimes lead to fatal complications.
What are the signs of a crohn’s disease?
Crohn’s disease patients may have periods of severe symptoms (flare-ups) followed by periods of no or very mild symptoms (remission). Remission can last for weeks, months, or even years. It is impossible to predict when flare-ups will occur.
If you have Crohn’s disease, you may experience the following symptoms:
- Pain in the abdomen.
- Diarrhea that is persistent.
- A sense of completeness.
- A loss of appetite.
- Weight reduction.
- Skin tags that are not normal (usually on your buttocks).
- Anal fissures.
- Fistulas in the anal cavity.
- Rectal bleeding occurs.
Risk Factors Linked to crohn’s disease-
Among the possible risk factors for Crohn’s disease are:
- Age. Despite the fact that Crohn’s disease can strike at any age, it is most likely to strike when you are young. Before the age of 30 or so, the majority of Crohn’s disease patients are diagnosed.
- Family history. If you have a first-degree relative with the disease, such as a parent, sibling, or child, you are at a higher risk. One in five people with Crohn’s disease has a family member who also has the disease.
- Smoking cigarettes. The most important controllable risk factor for Crohn’s disease is cigarette smoking. Smoking also causes more severe disease and increases the likelihood of requiring surgery. It is critical to quit smoking.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, and others), naproxen sodium (Aleve), diclofenac sodium, and others are examples. Despite the fact that they do not cause Crohn’s disease, they can lead to inflammation of the bowel, which exacerbates the condition.
What causes crohn’s disease?
The precise cause of Crohn’s disease is unknown. Diet and stress were previously suspected, but doctors now know that these factors may aggravate, but not cause, Crohn’s disease. Its development is most likely influenced by a number of factors.
- The immune system. Scientists have not yet identified a virus or bacterium that may cause Crohn’s disease. When your immune system attempts to combat an invading microorganism or environmental triggers, an atypical immune response causes the immune system to attack digestive tract cells as well.
- Heredity. People with a family history of Crohn’s disease are more likely to develop the disease themselves, suggesting that genes may play a role in determining risk. Most Crohn’s disease patients, however, do not have a family history of the disease.
How are crohn’s diseases identified?
Most Crohn’s patients seek medical attention because of persistent diarrhea, abdominal cramping, or unexplained weight loss.
Your healthcare provider may order one or more of the following tests to determine the source of your symptoms:
- Blood test: A blood test detects elevated white blood cell counts, which may indicate inflammation or infection. Low red blood cell count, also known as anemia, is checked for during the test. Anemia affects about one-third of Crohn’s disease patients.
- Stool test: This test examines a sample of your stool to see if it contains bacteria or parasites. Infections that causes chronic diarrhea can be ruled out.
- Colonoscopy: During a colonoscopy, your doctor examines the inside of your colon with an endoscope (a thin tube with a light and camera attached). To test for signs of inflammation, your doctor may take a tissue sample (biopsy) from the colon.
- Computed tomography (CT) scan: A CT scan produces images of the digestive tract. It informs your doctor about the severity of the intestinal inflammation.
- Upper GI endoscopy: Your doctor inserts a long, thin tube called an endoscope into your mouth and throat. Your doctor can see inside thanks to an attached camera. Your doctor may also obtain tissue samples during an upper endoscopy.
- Upper gastrointestinal (GI) exam: During an upper GI exam, X-ray images allow your doctor to observe the movement of a barium liquid through your digestive tract.
How is crohn’s disease treated?
Crohn’s disease treatment varies depending on what’s causing your symptoms and how severe they are for you. The goal of treatment in children is to induce remission (the time between symptom flare-ups), maintain remission, and manage any Crohn’s disease complications over time.
Your doctor may advise you to try one or more of the following Crohn’s disease treatments:
- Antibiotics: Antibiotics are drugs that can be used to prevent or treat infections. Severe infections may result in abscesses (pockets of pus). Or they can cause fistulas (openings or tunnels that connect organs that do not normally connect).
- Antidiarrheal Medication: Loperamide (Imodium A-D®) is a prescription medication that can treat severe diarrhea.
- Biologics: To suppress the immune response, these medications include monoclonal antibodies.
- Bowel rest: To allow your intestines to heal, your provider may advise fasting for several days or longer. You may receive intravenous (parenteral) nutrition to get the nutrition you require. During this time, you should only drink prescribed liquids or use a feeding tube.
- Corticosteroids: Cortisone, prednisone, and other corticosteroids reduce the inflammation caused by autoimmune disease.
- Immunomodulators: These medications reduce inflammation by suppressing an overactive immune system. Azathioprine and cyclosporine are two examples.
- Surgery: While surgery cannot cure Crohn’s disease, it can treat its complications. Intestinal perforations (holes), obstructions, or bleeding may require surgery.