What is Crohn’s Disease?
Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease that causes chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, which can lead to abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss, and malnutrition. Crohn’s disease is both painful and debilitating, can affect different areas of the GI tract in different people, and sometimes leads to life-threatening complications.
There are multiple types of Chohn’s disease that have differing symptoms and complications, which are:
- Ileocolitis – The most common type of Chron’s disease affects the end of the small intestine, known as the terminal ileum, and the large intestine, known as the colon.
- Ileitis – Only affects the ileum (large intestine)
- Gastroduodenal Crohn’s disease – Affects the stomach and the beginning of the small intestine, known as the duodenum
- Jejunoileitis – Characterized by patchy areas of inflammation of the upper half of the small intestine, known as the jejunum, and the lower part of the small intestine known as the ileum
- Crohn’s Granulomatous Colitis – Affects only the large intestine, known as the colon
How is Crohn’s disease diagnosed?
There is no single test for Crohn’s disease. Your gastroenterologist will evaluate your current medical history and diagnostic testing to rule out other causes of symptoms and confirm the diagnosis. Tests include:
• Blood tests
• Upper Endoscopy
• Small Intestine Imaging
What are the symptoms of Crohn’s disease?
Crohn’s disease is a chronic condition; therefore, patients will likely have flares when symptoms are active, followed by periods of remission when they do not experience symptoms at all. Any part of the small or large intestine can be affected by Crohn’s disease, and symptoms can range from mild to severe.
When the disease is active, symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain and cramping
- Blood in stool
- Canker sores
- Reduced appetite and weight loss
- Pain or drainage near or around the anus
- Skin complications, like bumps, sores, or rashes
- Inflammation of skin, eyes, and joints
- Inflammation of the liver or bile ducts
- Kidney stones
- Night sweats
- Delayed growth or sexual development (in children)
How is Crohn’s disease treated?
Your gastroenterologist will offer a combination of treatment options to help you stay in control of your disease. Treatment can include medications, diet and nutrition guidelines, and potentially surgery, depending on the symptoms.
Medication is often prescribed to control and suppress inflammation of the GI tract, offering relief from common symptoms like fever, diarrhea, and pain and allowing your intestines to heal. Other medications can control or decrease the frequency of flare-ups, allowing the patient to maintain remission.
Diet and nutrition play a vital role in the management of Crohn’s disease, helping patients reduce symptoms, replace lost nutrients and heal. Many patients with Crohn’s disease find soft, bland foods help ease the symptoms during flareups and try to avoid spicy, fatty, or high-fiber foods.
In some cases, when diet and medications cannot alleviate serious symptoms of Crohn’s disease, surgery is an option. Surgery involves the removal of the diseased section of the bowel and does not cure Crohn’s disease, but it can help dramatically improve the quality of life. Surgery is highly recommended if patients develop a fistula, fissure, or intestinal obstruction.
Disclaimer: The information presented on this website is not intended to take the place of your personal physician’s advice and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Discuss this information with your healthcare provider to determine what is right for you. All information is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical condition.
This website is owned and managed by Brian Cooley, MD. Any information, offers, or instruction as written, inferred, or implied is the sole responsibility of Brian Cooley, MD, and does not warrant claim or representation, inherent, or implied of DHAT, its subsidiaries, or employees.