Crohn's disease is chronic inflammation of the digestive tract. It can affect any portion of the digestive tract but is most commonly seen in the small and large intestines. Crohn's is an Irritable bowel disease (IBD).
Risk factors include:
- Family history
- Use of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories). For example, ibuprofen. NSAIDs will not cause Crohn's disease but they can increase inflammation within the intestines and can aggravate the disease in some individuals.
Signs and Symptoms include:
- Possibility of blood in the stool
- fatigue and malaise
- Abdominal pain, cramping and bloating
- Poor appetite and unexplained weight loss
Complications of Crohn's:
- Strictures: Involves an obstruction in the intestine causing their passage to narrow.
- abscesses and skin tags. Boils or lumps of thickened skin which develop outside the anus.
- Fistulae: Involves the formation of abnormal channels that join different portions of the intestine to either itself or another organ.
- Fissures. Tears or cracks that have become ulcerated and line the walls of the gastrointestinal tract.
- Surgery is needed for some individuals in order to relieve symptoms. Where and what type of surgery is dependent on the individual presentation but commonly a resection of the affected portion is needed.
- Crohn’s disease in the small intestine can lead to malabsorption and malnutrition over time if left untreated/unmanaged.
How is Crohn's diagnosed?
A qualified health professional will use a variety of tests to diagnose Crohn's. Blood tests, fecal occult blood test, colonoscopy, computerized tomography are some of the tests your doctor may use.
How is it treated?
There is no cure for Chron's and treatment is centered around managing symptoms. There is no one treatment and methods will vary from person to person. Anti-inflammatories such as corticosteroids, immune system suppressants, antibiotics, pain relief, nutrition therapy, and surgery are all possible treatment options.