What is Crohn’s Disease?
Crohn’s disease is considered an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which means that different areas of your digestive system suffers from chronic inflammation, due to an autoimmune disorder, that leads to the destruction of the layers of your digestive tissue. Crohn’s disease usually affects young people and is considered a serious condition, with possible life-threatening complications.
Crohn’s Disease Signs and Symptoms
Signs and symptoms of Crohn’s disease depend on the affected area of your digestive system. Virtually, any portion of the digestive tract can be affected. However, the most commonly affected area is the last part of the small intestine and the colon.
Symptoms might be different for every person and can range from mild to severe. Some of the most common signs and symptoms related to this condition include:
- Watery diarrhea
- Abdominal cramps and pain
- Mild fever
- Weight loss
- Presence of blood in your stools
Additionally, people suffering from Chron’s disease might also present some symptoms outside the digestive tract, like inflammation of the joints, eyes, skin and the liver.
Crohn’s Disease Common Causes
Until now, the exact cause of Crohn’s disease remains unknown. However, doctors have established that factors like heredity and a malfunctioning immune system are responsible for most cases.
There are some well-known risk factors linked with this condition, including:
- Crohn’s disease commonly affects people under 30 years old
- Caucasian people
- Crohn’s disease family history
Crohn’s Disease Diagnosis
There is not a single test to diagnose Crohn’s disease, the diagnosis is made after discarding some other possible causes for your symptoms. Some of the possible tests your doctor will use to make the diagnosis of Crohn’s disease include:
- Blood tests, including tests for anemia and infections.
- Stool test, in order to look after hidden blood.
- Upper endoscopy and colonoscopy. These procedures involve using a special tube attached to a tiny camera that allow your doctor to look inside your digestive system for some signs of inflammation, and to take some tissue sample (biopsy) for microscopic analysis.
- Imagining tests like CT scan and MRI that allow having a good image of your digestive system and the surrounding organs and tissues.
Crohn’s Disease Treatment
Unfortunately, there is not a cure available for Crohn’s disease. However, there are some treatment options available that have shown good results in managing the signs of symptoms related to this condition.
Some treatment options for Crohn’s disease include:
- Anti-inflammatory drugs and oral 5-aminosalicylates (sulfasalazine and mesalamine).
- Immune system suppressors. These drugs will reduce inflammation by directly attack the substance of your immune system that cause inflammation.
For most patients, having a remission state, which is the period without any symptom of the disease, involves using some combinations of the possible medical treatment options for Crohn’s disease. Additionally, your doctor will also include in your treatment, painkillers, iron supplements, anti-diarrheal medication and special dietary advice from your nutritionist.