What is Crohn's Disease?
Crohn's disease is an intestinal inflammatory disease that is chronic. The disease was described by a physician named Chron in 1932 and named after him. It often affects the colon and the small intestine but can also affect any part of the digestive tract. The main symptom is that it causes ulcers of the small and large intestines. It is called by various names like colitis or terminal ileitis. There are various types of Crohn's disease or also called variations and depending on the location it is found. The symptoms can be life-threatening or mild also.
Crohn's Disease Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of this disease vary and affect each person differently. There are some symptoms that develop gradually and become worse as time progresses. The initial signs include:
- Cramping of the stomach
- Bloody stools
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Frequent bowel movements and feeling the bowel is not empty
The above signs are also symptoms of an upset stomach or food poisoning. If it persists long it is recommended that you consult a Crohn's disease doctor as early diagnosis helps in starting treatment early and managing the conditions. As the disease progresses, the symptoms seen are:
- Inflammation of the joints
- Ulcers in the digestive tract.
- Fistula with pain in the anus
- Shortness of breath
Who is a Risk?
There is research still going on regarding the Crohns disease risk factors and some studies point to the below as risks:
- People who consume a diet that is rich in sugar and processed food. It is also believed that people who consume a lot of dairy products also are at a risk.
- People who are suffering from depression and anxiety have a high likelihood of this condition.
- People who smoke cigarettes excessively can be one of the reasons for Crohn's disease.
- People who use certain anti-inflammatory drugs, birth control pills, etc are at risk of this condition.
- People who have had an appendectomy.
Crohn's Disease Causes
The exact causes of Crohn's disease are not clear but there are many factors that influence the disease. These include:
- The genetic factors: There are many cases where a person with this disease has a family member with this disease. Hence genetic factors play a role.
- Environmental factors: Certain lifestyle and environmental factors influence the cause and severity of the symptoms. Smoking is thought to be one of the causes or progresses it quickly as it damages the lining of the intestines.
- Immune system: A low immunity increases the likelihood of developing these diseases. They are more prone to developing intestinal infections from microorganisms and create more complications.
How is Crohn's Disease Diagnosed?
Crohn's disease diagnosis is done through a series of tests and no single test can prove that a person has this condition. A gastroenterologist diagnoses this by the elimination process. The tests conducted are:
- A blood test to determine inflammation and anaemia.
- A stool test is done to determine if blood is present in the gastrointestinal tract.
- Endoscopy is performed to look into the upper GI tract.
- A colonoscopy is done to check the bowel.
- CT scans and MRI scans are done to check tissues and organs and give the doctor a better picture than an X-Ray.
- A biopsy may also be done on the GI tract tissues
After reviewing all the test results, a doctor may conclude if it is Crohn's disease or not.
How is Crohn's Disease Treated?
There is no Crohn's disease cure but it can be managed using a variety of options and reduce the severity of the symptoms. Some of Crohn's disease treatment options are:
- Dietary changes: Food can trigger this condition and hence a dietician will suggest some changes in your diet.
- Biologic therapies: It is done to treat inflammation and other complications.
- Medications: There is no single medicine for Crohns disease but a combination of anti-inflammatory and anti-diarrheal drugs along with drugs to treat the immune system. All this depends on the severity of the symptoms and how far it has progressed.
- Surgery: If the above does not help surgery is done to remove damaged GI or repair damaged tissues, etc.
Consult our experienced and qualified doctors at cult.fit to know which treatment suits your symptoms.
How to Prevent Crohn's Disease?
- Prevention of Crohn's disease is not possible, but effective management of the same can be done by doing the following:
- Maintaining a nutritious and well-balanced diet.
- Decrease complications by taking vitamin and nutrients supplements to prevent anaemia and weight loss.
- Avoid smoking as it increases the risk of colon cancer.
- Conduct regular checks of the colon to know if it has progressed and affected the colon or rectum.
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