Crohn's disease is also known as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). It causes inflammation of the lining of the digestive tract and often spreads into the layers of affected bowel tissues. It is a serious condition that can become life-threatening if not treated right and on time.
In some cases, there might not be symptoms of Crohn's disease. However, when symptoms do surface, they may include the following:
- Abdominal Pain
- Prolonged fever
- Blood in your stool
- Unexplained weight loss
- Reduced appetite
- Perianal disease
- Mouth sores
- Inflammation of liver or bile ducts
- Inflammation of skin, eyes and joints
- Delayed growth and development in children
It is highly advisable to consult your doctor immediately if you feel any/some/all of the above symptoms.
There are a number of risk factors that might contribute to Crohn's disease. These may include:
- Ethnicity: While Crohn's disease is likely to affect any ethnicity, it is said to affect people with Jewish descent the most. This could be based on their family history.
- Age: While Crohn's disease can be contracted at any age, you are most likely to get affected if you are under 30.
- History of the disease in the family
- Geographical factors
If your doctor concludes that you have Crohn's disease, he will run a series of tests to confirm the affect it has had on the body. These tests may include:
- Blood tests: For anaemia and infection followed by a fecal occult blood test.
- CT scan
- MRI scan
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy
- Capsule endoscopy
- Small bowel imaging
- Double balloon endoscopy
According to your doctor's discretion he may run some or all of the above tests depending on what he/she suspects. Following this, he will prescribe the treatment required.
There are number of drugs that help reduce the effects of Crohn's disease and there is no one way that it can be treated. Some drugs that may be prescribed by your doctors are as follows:
Corticosteroids: These help reduce inflammation in the body.
Oral 5 - aminosalicylates: These kind of drugs are specifically for Crohn's disease that affects the colon.
Other drugs may include iron supplements, pain relievers, anti-diarrhoeals, Vitamin b-12, Vitamin D and calcium, ciprofloxacin, metronidazole etc
Doctors also use Biologic therapies, such as Cimzia (certolizumab pegol), Humira (adalimumab), and Remicade (infliximab). Remicade plays its role by neutralizing the activity tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha). This substance is overproduced in Crohn's and causes the inflammation associated with Crohn's disease.
If the effects of Crohn's disease still persist, you may have to undergo surgery.
Surgery is done for 2 reasons -
1] To treat complications like fistulas, abscesses, hemorrhage, and intestinal obstructions
2] Removing the diseased part of the bowel and joining the two healthy ends of bowel together (anastomosis).