Crohn’s Disease

What is Crohn’s Disease?

Crohn’s disease is a disorder that causes chronic inflammation of the tissue lining the digestive system.

It is a hereditary disease and can occur in people of all age groups, but it’s most common in people between the ages of 20 and 30.

The symptoms of Crohn’s disease can vary in intensity, from mild to severe. They tend to be intermittent with flare-up periods.

Primary symptoms of Crohn’s Disease include:

  • Abdominal cramps usually in the lower right area
  • Frequent loose stool
  • Diarrhea

Other symptoms include:

  • Rectal bleeding
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Fever
  • Pain in the joints
  • Skin sores or lumps
  • Stunted growth in children

The exact cause of Crohn’s disease is unknown, except for theories that suggest the mechanism of the disease. One leading theory suggests that it is an autoimmune disorder or abnormal functioning of the immune system. As a result, the white blood cells accumulate in the intestinal lining causing chronic inflammation and ulceration. However, it is not clear whether an autoimmune disorder is a cause or a result of the Crohn’s disease.

Your physician can diagnose the condition based on careful physical examinations and diagnostic tests such as:

  • Blood tests to check for anemia
  • White blood cell count
  • Stool test to check for blood
  • Tissue sample
  • Barium enema

The objectives of treatment for Crohn’s disease are to relieve symptoms of inflammation such as:

  • Pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Rectal bleeding

And to make up for the nutritional deficiencies.

The treatment options include:

  • Medications to relieve symptoms:
    • Anti-inflammatory drugs
    • Corticosteroids
    • Immunomodulators
    • Antibiotics
    • Antidiarrheal agents
    • Nutritional supplements
      • Your doctor may recommend the intake of a high calorie liquid formula, particularly for children with stunted growth.
    • Surgery
      • Surgery involves removal of the affected part of the intestine. Because of the tendency to recur even after surgical treatment, the risks and benefits of surgery will be compared with other treatment options before making up the decision for surgery. Surgical treatment is considered as an option if the symptoms don’t get better with medical therapy or if complications occur, such as:
        • intestinal blockage
        • perforation
        • abscess
        • bleeding

In most of the cases, the treatment includes combinatorial approach and for longer periods with regular follow-up visits.

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