Do you feel pain in your bowel, or abdominal pain, have frequent diarrhea, fatigue, rapid weight loss, and rectal bleeding? You might be suffering from Crohn’s Disease.
This is a chronic and long-term disease that causes inflammation in your digestive tract. Moreover, it is a type of inflammatory bowel disease.
This disease can affect any part of your digestive tract however the inflammation often spreads into deeper layers of the bowel. It often involves the small intestines and colon.
Doctors often consider Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis as a type of Inflammatory Bowel Disease.
Both heredity, immune system, and environment play a role in the development of this disease.
There is no cure for Crohn’s disease, however, certain therapies can ease the signs and symptoms and reduce the inflammation.
Crohn’s disease can both be painful and debilitating and can even lead to life-threatening complications.
However, with medications and therapy, many people are able to perform their daily routine functions well.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 29-199 out of 100,000 are affected due to Crohn’s Disease.
Here is everything you need to know about Crohn’s Disease.
Signs and Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease
In most cases, people develop Crohn’s disease for years before diagnosis. The onset of this disease starts in teens or early twenties, however, it can occur at any age.
Certain signs and symptoms can worsen over time. However, it is rare for symptoms to develop suddenly and dramatically.
The earliest signs and symptoms of Crohn’s disease are as follows:
Diarrhea, abdominal cramps, abdominal pain, blood in your stool, and fever are the early signs and symptoms.
Moreover, loss of appetite, weight loss, feeling that your bowel is empty, and frequent bowel movements are also included.
In some cases, it is possible to mistake the signs and symptoms with food poisoning, or abdominal pain which is due to an upset stomach or allergy to certain food.
It is important to visit your doctor for a diagnosis in case the symptoms persist.
Over time, the symptoms may become worse as the disease progresses. These symptoms may include:
- Perianal Fistula: It causes pain and drainage near your anus
- Ulcers: May occur anywhere in your body, from the mouth to the anus
- Inflammation: In the joints and your skin
- Anemia: Can cause shortness of breath and decrease your ability to exercise.
In most cases, early diagnosis can help you avoid severe complications and allow you to begin early treatment.
Moreover, Crohn’s disease can affect your immune system, making it worse.
Causes of Crohn’s Disease
While there is no exact cause of Crohn’s disease, many doctors believe it to be due to external factors and genetic predisposition.
Crohn’s is a genetically complex disease in which researchers have found a relationship between the immune system and genetic risk factors. Moreover, it indicates the malfunction in the innate immune system.
Both genetics and environmental factors play a role in developing Crohn’s disease.
Yeast infection is one of the common infections due to Crohn’s disease and can affect both your lungs and the intestinal tract.
To prevent further complications, early diagnosis is important.
In most cases, people who develop Crohn’s disease often have a sibling or a parent with this disease, according to CCFA.
Certain factors lead to the development of this disease according to a study in 2012.
These factors play a role in determining and diagnosing this disease and whether you are a smoker or not, your age, the time period you had the disease, and whether your rectum is involved or not.
Moreover, people with this disease, often develop intestinal infections from bacteria, viruses, parasites, or fungi.
This can affect the severity of the signs and symptoms and create more complications.
Certain viruses or bacteria can trigger Crohn’s disease according to doctors, however, there no hard evidence.
When your immune system tries to attack the invading pathogens i.e. bacteria or virus, an abnormal immune system starts to attack its healthy cells and in this case, it attacks the digestive tract.
Another study suggests that the ATG16L1 gene was found in Crohn’s disease which may include autophagy and hinder your body’s ability to attack the foreign pathogen.
A study suggests that Crohn’s disease is common in people whose either or both of their parents have this disease.
Moreover, it increases the chances of developing its disease by 30% in such cases.
So genes play an important role in people making them more suspectable. The gene variants of NOD2/CARD15 seem to be related to small-bowel involvement
Crohn’s has been linked to the gene LRRK2 with one variant potentially increasing the risk of developing the disease by 70%, while another lowers it by 25%.
This gene is responsible for making a protein, which collects and eliminates waste products in cells of your body, and is also associated with Parkinson’s disease.
Doctors usually diagnosis Crohn’s disease after ruling out overlapping signs and symptoms with other similar conditions like food poisoning.
However, there is no single test to diagnose this disease. Doctors order certain blood tests and others to confirm the disease and then start with the treatment plan.
Lab Tests: Your doctors will order lab tests which include a blood test and stool studies to confirm whether or not you are suffering from Crohn’s disease.
- Blood Test: Your doctor will suggest a blood test to check for Anemia, in which there is no adequate amount of red blood cells to carry oxygen to your tissues or to check for signs of infections.
- Stool Studies: In this test, your doctor will check for hidden blood clots or organisms such as parasites in your stool.
Your doctor will order certain medical procedures to confirm the diagnosis of Crohn’s disease.
These tests are as follows:
Colonoscopy: During this test, your doctor will be able to view your colon and the end of your ileum using a thin, flexible tube.
Moreover, your doctor will take samples of tissue during this, for analysis in the lab. In case there are clusters of inflammatory cells, Granulomas, present in your test, it will confirm the diagnosis of Crohn’s.
CT Scan: This test looks at your entire bowel as well as the tissues outside the bowel.
They might also order CT enterography which provides a better image of small intestines.
MRI: This test uses magnetic and radio waves that create detailed images of your organs and tissues.
Moreover, it is particularly useful for evaluating your fistula and small intestine.
Capsule Endoscopy: In this test, you will swallow a capsule that contains a camera.
It takes images of your small intestine and transmits them to a recorder to a computer.
During this test, the doctor will assess the images and check the signs of Crohn’s disease. The crema exists in your body while you pass stool.
Your doctor will not perform this test in case you have a bowel obstruction.
Ballon-assisted Enteroscopy: In this test, your doctor uses a scope in conjunction with a devise, over-tube.
This test allows them to look further into your bowel where an endoscope cannot reach. It shows abnormalities in your bowel.
Treatment of Crohn
There is no cure for Crohn’s disease yet, however certain drugs like antidiarrheal and anti-inflammatory are commonly prescribed by doctors.
Moreover, different treatment options are available that will lessen the severity and frequency of your signs and symptoms.
The treatment of Crohn is as follows:
Medications: There are different medications to treat Crohn’s disease. these are Antidiarrheal and anti-inflammatory drugs.
However, more advanced drugs like biologists are available to treat the immune system of your body.
Your doctor may prescribe one or a combination of medications that depends on the signs and symptoms, your medical history, the severity of your condition, and how well you respond to the medications.
Anti-inflammatory Drugs: The 2 main types are oral 5 aminosalicylates and corticosteroids.
Your doctor will prescribe these medications when your signs and symptoms are mild with infrequent disease flare.
There are other medications your doctor will prescribe which depend on the severity of your conditions.
Immunomodulators: Overactive immune system causes inflammation in your body and will lead to the severity of this disease.
Immunomodulators reduce the inflammatory response in your body and limit the reaction of your immune system.
Antibiotics: These help to reduce the signs and symptoms of Crohn’s disease and some of the possible triggers as well.
For instance, antibiotics can help reduce drainage and heal fistulas in your body.
Biologic Therapies: In case you have a severe case of Crohn’s, your doctor will prescribe these medications to treat inflammation and complications.
Biologic Therapies block specific proteins that may trigger inflammation in your body.
This is the last treatment option for Crohn’s disease however, three-quarters of people eventually need some type of surgery to relieve signs and symptoms, and complications due to this disease.
When the medications are no longer effective in treating Crohn’s, or the side effects become too severe, your doctor may consider one of the following surgeries:
Strictureplasty: During this surgery, your doctor will widen and shorten the length of the intestine in an attempt to reduce the effects of scarring and damage to the tissues in your body.
Bowel Resection: During this, your doctor will remove the parts of your intestine that are damaged.
They will stitch the healthy parts of your intestine to reform them.
Ostomy: This creates a hole through which your body can eliminate waste.
This procedure is performed, when a portion of the small or large bowel is removed. However, they can be permanent or temporary as your doctor wants to give time for healing.
Colectomy: This removes the damaged or diseased sections of your colon.
Proctocolectomy: In this surgery, they will remove the colon a rectum.
You will need a colostomy which is a hole in the large intestine that will empty the waste if you have this surgery.
These surgeries are very helpful for relieving the signs and symptoms of Crohn’s disease however there are certain risks.
Moreover, you need to talk to your doctor about the concerns and the risks of the surgery.
Diet for Crohn’s Patient
A certain diet plan that will work for you might not suit another person. This is because Crohn’s can involve different parts of your digestive tract in different people.
Moreover, it is important to find what suits you best. Lifestyle and diet changes can help reduce signs and symptoms to reduce the recurrence and to lessen the severity.
You can make the following steps:
Fibre Intake: Some people need high fiber and protein, however for others, it can aggravate the condition.
Consult your doctor about what best suits you, as research suggests a mixed form of diet for Crohn’s disease.
Dairy Intake: With Crohn’s disease, you are more intolerant to dairy products and can develop difficulty digesting them.
It can lead to an upset stomach, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea.
Fat Intake: Crohn’s disease interfere with your body’s ability to break down and absorb fat components of the food.
While this passes through your small intestine, it can cause diarrhea.
Water: This disease affects your body’s ability to absorb water. This can lead to dehydration.
It is particularly at high risk if you are having diarrhea or bleeding.
Living with Crohn
This might not be well-known as Cancer or Heart Disease however, people with Crohn’s can have a difficult life.
People with Crohn’s will have an effect on their large and small intestines, though it can wreak havoc on any part of your GI tract.
An important thing to keep in mind that this disease has remissions and flare-up periods. In some cases, smoking can make this condition worse.
Moreover, genetics play an important role in the transmission of this disease from parents to offsprings.
Variations of This Disease
There are 6 variations of this disease and are based on the location in the digestive tract. These are:
Gastroduodenal Crohn’s Disease: This is an uncommon condition that affects your stomach and duodenum which is the first part of your intestine.
Jejunoileitits: This occurs in the jejunum which is the second part of your intestine.
Moreover, this variation is also less common.
Ileitis: It involves inflammation in the last part of your intestine or ileum.
Ileocolitis: This affects your ileum and colon and is the most common variation.
Crohn’s Colitis: This variation affects the colon, moreover, it can affect the deeper layers of your intestinal lining.
Perianal Disease: This involves fistulas or abnormal connections between tissues, deep tissue infections as well as sores and ulcers on the outer skin around the anus.
Many researchers are looking for more effective treatments and potentially an eventual cure for Crohn’s disease.
However, with the help of different medications, doctors are able to manage the signs and symptoms and remission is possible as well.
Moreover, your doctor will help you find the right medications and lifestyle measures that will help you to relieve the symptoms. In case you have Gastrointestinal Symptoms, consult your doctor to determine the cause and potential solutions.