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Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory disease that affects the digestive tract. It is a type of IBD, or inflammatory bowel disease; Crohn’s disease is... Everything You Need to Know About Crohn’s Disease

Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory disease that affects the digestive tract. [1] It is a type of IBD, or inflammatory bowel disease; Crohn’s disease is one of the two most common forms of IBD. [2] The other is UC, or ulcerative colitis. [3] Crohn’s disease has a significant impact on a person’s digestive tract. There are more than 750,000 people who have been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. Typically, it is caught early in life. People usually find out they have it when they are in high school or college, usually young adulthood at the latest. People need to be able to understand the early signs and symptoms of this condition, so that they will be able to get the help they need as soon as they know they have it. If you find that you have any of the symptoms listed below, you should make sure to get in touch with a doctor for some help.

Who Needs to Worry About Crohn’s Disease?

The exact cause of this condition is not yet known. [4] Researchers are still trying to figure it out. However, most medical professionals carry the belief that this disease is actually an autoimmune condition. What this means is that the immune system ends up attacking its own cells, organs, and tissues. If your immune system is working on killing bacteria in your digestive tract, for example, it might end up attacking your own body tissues as well. In some cases, this could lead to the development of the condition that we call Crohn’s disease.

There are some significant risk factors for the development of this condition. Some are as follows:

  • Being between ages 15 and 35
  • Having a family history of the condition, especially if you have a parent or sibling who has Crohn’s disease
  • Being white or of Ashkenazi Jewish descent
  • Having a history of smoking
  • Living in an industrial or urban area

Individuals who fit into one or more of these categories will generally be more likely to develop this condition than individuals who do not.

Signs and Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease

Most of the time, Crohn’s disease will develop gradually. It is similar to other types of chronic conditions in that there is a wide range in terms of scope and severity. At first, usually Crohn’s disease will be asymptomatic, so people will not even know that they have it. Over time, it will start to build, and symptoms will start to worsen. Crohn’s disease actually comes from long-standing inflammation, meaning that the two symptoms that people see most commonly will be abdominal pain and diarrhea. When people start experiencing these symptoms, they will usually be both chronic and severe. The diarrhea will contain mucus a lot of the time, and even blood in many cases.

There are other symptoms of Crohn’s Disease as well, and they include the following:

  • Development of fevers
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Delayed development and stunted growth in children
  • Blood that is coming out of the rectum
  • Significant weight loss that cannot be explained any other way

If you happen to be experiencing any of the above symptoms or know someone who is, the individual who is experiencing the symptoms should seek out medical care soon as they can.

Diagnosis of Crohn’s Disease

If you are wondering how Crohn’s disease is diagnosed in a person, is typically done using a combination of tactics. Usually, doctors will go off of diagnostic tests as well as reports of clinical symptoms. The doctor will take a very thorough medical history and look for all the symptoms that we have mentioned. After this, the doctor could order tests that will look at different parameters of functioning. These might include signs of inflammation, kidney function, liver function, and electrolyte levels. In some cases, the doctor will order a stool sample as well, so that they can look for signs of blood in the stool.

A doctor can order other tests as well, including CT scans or MRIs of the person’s abdomen, a colonoscopy that will allow them to look at the entire colon and take biopsies, and a video capsule endoscopy that will use a pill camera to perform functions that are similar to a colonoscopy. These tests can be very important in diagnosing Crohn’s disease in an individual.

Treatment of Crohn’s Disease

If it turns out that you have Crohn’s disease, there is some good news for you. There are several options available in terms of treatment for this condition. They include the following:

  • Medications. There are many medications that are capable of treating Crohn’s disease. Some are anti-inflammatories, such as aminosalicylates and corticosteroids.
  • Dietary changes. If you find out that you have Crohn’s disease, there are certain foods that you should avoid. These include raw produce, dairy products, fatty meats, and high fiber foods. Better choices include tofu, fish, potatoes, bell peppers, and bananas.
  • Surgery. This is typically not the first option that people consider, but it can be an effective option if it is not possible to control the symptoms in other ways. A surgeon can remove sections of damaged bowel, and this can help bring about an improvement of the symptoms while preserving as much of the body as possible.
  • Lifestyle changes. If you avoid tobacco products and exercising a regular basis, you can help control the symptoms of your Crohn’s disease. You should also make sure to minimize stress and anxiety, which can worsen the symptoms as well.
  • Natural treatments. Probiotics, prebiotics, acupuncture, and fish oil supplements are some of the natural treatments that can help manage this condition.

If you have Crohn’s disease, it would be a good idea to talk to your doctor about a well-rounded treatment plan that can help you. [5]

Prognosis of Crohn’s Disease

Crohn’s disease can vary quite a bit in terms of how severe it is. The sooner it is diagnosed, the more quickly it can be treated. If it is treated quickly, this can improve the prognosis for the patient. If you have any questions about Crohn’s disease or your experience of the condition, you should talk to a doctor in order to learn more about what your options are in terms of diagnosis and treatment.