Crohn’s is one of the most common inflammatory bowel disorders (IBDs) that can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract. Together with ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s is both incurable and idiopathic. This means that besides having no cure, scientists and researchers haven’t identified its cause.
The inflammation and the resulting swelling can go very deep into the lining, causing severe pain, diarrhea, decreased appetite, nausea, and sometimes bleeding. The relapsing, chronic, and life-threatening nature of this IBD may cause broader impacts on the patients’ social, physical, and emotional wellbeing.
Although there’s no cure for Crohn’s, there are medical interventions set aside to help patients ease the symptoms and help them enjoy a full, active life. This current pamphlet provides valuable information and resources that can help you manage the physical and psychological symptoms of this and related illnesses.
Defining Crohn’s Disease
What is Crohn’s disease? How can we best describe it? Well, as mentioned previously, this is an IBD that causes inflammation, irritable bowel, and ulcers on the lining of your large intestines (also known as the colon). The condition typically starts between ages 15 and 40 but can affect people of other ages. The disease is also equally common among males and females.
The key difference between Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis is that, while ulcerative colitis causes inflammation on the top layer of the lining of your colon, Crohn’s can inflame all layers of the gastrointestinal tract.
When the swelling and inflammation affect the small intestine, this type of Crohn’s is often referred to as ileitis. When this affects both the small and colon, it is referred to as ileocolitis. If it affects the upper half of the small intestine called jejunum, the resulting condition is termed jejunoileitis. If Crohn’s inflammation and swelling affect the duodenum, it is referred to as gastroduodenal.
Other than ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s is also related to other IBDs such as indeterminate colitis, lymphocytic colitis, and microscopic colitis. These different types of colitis have a similarity in that they all cause colon inflammation. Ulcerative proctitis is also in this class of IBDs but manifests as a mild form of ulcerative colitis.
Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease
Symptoms of Crohn’s vary greatly depending on the patient and the part of the gastrointestinal tract that the disease attacks. Crohn’s and ulcerative symptoms often mirror each other involving diarrhea, inflamed bowel and abdominal pain, weight loss and generally feeling unwell. Some of the most common signs and symptoms are described below:
Diarrhea is the first and most common symptom and can vary from mild to severe. This may also involve pus, mucus, or blood, also depending on the severity of the condition. You may also experience what is referred to as tenesmus—a common feeling of wanting to go to the toilet but with nothing to pass.
7 out of 10 patients with Crohn’s disease will also experience pain that also varies from mild to severe. The location of this pain will also depend on which part is most inflamed. Large and small intestines are the most common sites of infectious colitis. In most cases, the pain will be felt on the lower side of the abdomen.
Crohn’s may also lead to ulcers, a raw area of the lining of the gastrointestinal tract that may bleed. The severity of ulcers and resulting bleeding may vary from person to person depending on the severity of the condition. This means that anemia may also occur if a lot of blood is lost.
Causes of Crohn’s Diseases
There’s no known cause of chrome disease. But, certain factors are shown to increase the risk of developing the illness. For instance, excessive cigarette smoking is often cited as a key risk factor. People who smoke are twice as likely to develop infectious colitis as non-smokers.
Like other IBDs, Crohn’s disease can also run in the family. Some studies indicate that 3 in 20 people with the condition have close relatives who also have it, which indicates some genetic factors.
There is also some hypothesis that autoimmune disease can cause Crohn’s. This is when bacteria in the gastrointestinal tube cause your body’s immune system to attack your healthy cells leading to inflammation.
Diagnosing Crohn’s Disease
Your GP will initially arrange a blood test to help find the diagnosis. You may also be asked to provide a stool sample to determine if there is an infection in your gut. That stool sample may also be sent to the lab for what is called a calprotectin test to further confirm that you have Crohn’s disease.
Based on where your symptoms appear, your doctor may order more tests to determine which kind of Crohn’s disease you have. If the symptoms occur on the lower parts of the gut, it may involve conducting a colonoscopy to determine the exact area of inflammation.
If the symptoms appear on the upper part of your gastrointestinal tract, your doctor may suggest endoscopy (gastroscopy). Both procedures allow your doctor to have a clear internal look at the inflammation and its severity.
Managing Crohn’s Disease
Since Crohn’s disease has no cure, treatment procedures aim at controlling inflammation, correcting nutritional problems, and relieving symptoms. Effective treatment approaches can help in plummeting the number of times a patient experience recurrence.
Depending on the severity of the disease, its location, complications, and a patient’s response to previous treatments, management may involve surgery, medication, and colitis diets as nutritional supplements.
Different kinds of medication may be prescribed including antibiotics (such as tetracycline and cephalosporin), steroids or cortisone, and anti-inflammatory drugs (such as Sulfasalazine). Fluid replacements and anti-diarrhea drugs may also be used.
Abdominal or anorectal surgeries may be performed when the patient’s symptoms can no longer be controlled by medication. This often happens when there is a blockage or a perforation (hole) in the bowel.
Crohn’s diet to eat when you have irritable or ulcerated colon may include grains, low-fiber foods, oatmeal, oily fish, lean meat, juices, poached, or peeled fruits, and prepared veggies.
The important thing is to consume a lot of nutrients in a planned Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis diet because these IBDs can cause serious complications that include malnutrition, weight loss, and nutrients deficiency.
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