About 33,000 people are diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease each year. Crohn’s disease involves inflammation that can occur in any part of the digestive tract, most commonly in the small intestine and colon. This disease can also be associated with life-threatening complications so it is important to be appropriately treated.
Your doctor may use a variety of tests to diagnose Crohn’s disease, including blood and stool tests, and CT scans. The diagnosis is usually confirmed with a colonoscopy, where your doctor will use a long flexible camera to visualize the digestive tract and obtain a tissue sample.
Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease
Symptoms can come on slowly or be sudden and without apparent warning. When a patient is not in remission, the common symptoms might include:
- Mouth sores
- Bloody stool
- Abdominal pain and cramping
- Reduced appetite
- Weight loss
- Pain/drainage near the anus
- Fistulas (abnormal connections between the digestive tract and other organs)
Other issues that can be associated with Crohn’s disease include:
- Kidney stones
- Inflammation of the liver or the bile ducts
- Inflammation of joints and the eyes
- Skin rashes
- Delayed sexual development in children
What Causes Crohn’s Disease?
The precise cause of Crohn’s Disease is not known. It is believed that there is a connection with immune system health that might be the root cause of the disease. The trigger that causes the disease to become active is still unknown. Heredity plays a part in Crohn’s Disease.
Many people develop this condition when they are young, before age 30. However, you can be diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at any age. Cigarette smoking has been associated with an increased risk for developing Crohn’s disease. Those who use NSAIDs on a regular basis may be at greater risk of developing Crohn’s.
Treatment of Crohn’s Disease
Various medications can be used to effectively treat Crohn’s disease. The type of medication used will depend on the extent and severity of inflammation and symptoms. Some patients only need an oral anti-inflammatory medication. Other medications can be used that either suppress the immune system or work to prevent inflammation from developing. When combined with corticosteroids and antibiotics, Crohn’s disease flares can be managed in most cases. For severe cases that are not controlled with medication, surgery is sometimes required.
It is important to maintain a healthy balanced diet and to stay hydrated, although this disease cannot be managed through dietary adjustments alone. Certain types of foods may be less tolerated including foods with insoluble fiber, lactose, non-absorbable sugars, and high-fat content.