Symptoms & Treatment for Crohn's Disease
What is Crohn’s disease?
Crohn’s disease is characterized by chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Your GI tract runs from your mouth all the way through your body and down to your anus. Crohn’s disease can affect any portion of this tract, although it is most common in the small intestine or rectum.
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a condition that describes the two main diseases that affect the digestive tract, including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
These two illnesses are so similar that it can be difficult to distinguish between the two. Both problems are characterized by abnormal immune system responses. In Crohn’s disease, the immune system mistakenly attacks the intestines, which results in chronic inflammation in the area. This sometimes goes on to cause intestinal ulcers or bowel injuries.
What causes Crohn’s disease?
Currently, we do not know what causes Crohn’s disease, however, studies suggest that the following factors could increase the chances for inflammation in the GI tract:
- Immune system problems
- Environmental factors
- Family members with Crohn’s
What are the symptoms of Crohn’s disease?
Symptoms of Crohn’s disease include the following:
- Stomach pain or cramping
- Loss of appetite
- Rectal bleeding (in some cases)
- Pain during bowel movement
Because Crohn’s disease is a long-term illness, you may go through phases where symptoms are more troublesome than usual. The disease tends to flare up at times, followed by periods where your symptoms seem to disappear.
How is Crohn’s disease diagnosed?
Crohn’s disease doesn’t have a single test for diagnosis, however, a combination of tests can be used to rule out other conditions. Doctors typically diagnose a patient with Crohn’s disease after the following exams:
- Physical exam
- X-rays (small bowel series)
- Lab tests
- Small bowel endoscopy
How is Crohn’s disease treated?
Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for Crohn’s disease. Instead, doctors aim to control the illness by regulating the body’s immune system responses. The following medications might be recommended to help you lead a normal, healthy life with Crohn’s disease:
- Immune modifiers
- Biologic therapy
- Surgery, in some cases
- Nutritional therapy
- Psychotherapy, in some cases