What is Crohn's Disease? Edit
Also called inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease is a lifelong disease (chronic) in the digestive system in which parts of the digestive system gets swollen and get deep sores called ulcers. It is a bowel disease where abnormal immune system responses cause inflammation in the digestive tract. Any part of the intestinal tract from the mouth to the anus can be affected, but it is usually found in the first (lower) place of the small intestine and the first (top) part of the large intestine as well. Crohn’s disease is an ongoing condition where individuals may feel signs of relief for a few days, weeks, or even months, although the symptoms usually reappear. Commonly in Crohn's disease, the immune will system mistakenly attack healthy bacteria existing in the GI tract. It typically begins around ages 13 to 40, and affects women and men equally.
How does Crohn's Disease Affect the Digestive System? Edit
Crohn’s disease has a large impact on the digestive system. It affects the digestive system through diarrhea, vomiting, and weight loss. These are serious concerns, because these symptoms may have the ability to last for a duration's up to 10-20 days. This disease targets the digestive system particularly, as it begins attacking healthy cells located within the gastrointestinal tract (GI). As a result of this, these parts of the body become swollen and inflamed. This is known as an autoimmune disorder as the body begins forming antibodies that work against itself. In the long term, the body is creating a lot of long term damage against itself. Also, due to inflammation, an abnormal connection called fistula can be created between the digestive organs, typically between the intestines. This also damages the ileum, a section of the small intestine.
Signs and Symptoms Edit The signs and symptoms of Crohn’s disease are sometimes hard to classify as “Crohn’s disease” because of the generality of the issues and also because the experience of the disease can be different between patients. This is because the symptoms differ depending on the location of the disease and the severity and this makes it hard for doctors to diagnose Crohn’s disease. However there are common signs and symptoms of Crohn’s disease such as discomfort and abdominal pain or cramping, diarrhea up to 10 to 20 times a day and may cause blood stools in stools but not always, loss of appetite, fatigue, fever, weight loss, small tears in the anus and also anemia. If not already known, anemia is a harmful body condition in which there are fewer red blood cells accounted for than normal. A few symptoms that demonstrate that there is swelling outside the intestine region are eye irritation, pain or soreness in joints, or changes in skin conditions forming both red and tender bumps.
Crohn’s disease may affect any part of the GI tract. While symptoms vary from patient to patient, some symptoms may be more common than others, the array of Crohn’s disease symptoms include:
Symptoms related to inflammation of the GI tract:
- Persistent Diarrhea
- Rectal bleeding
- Urgent need to move bowels
- Abdominal cramps and pain
- Sensation of incomplete evacuation
- Constipation (can lead to bowel obstruction)
General symptoms that may also be associated with IBD:
- Loss of appetite
- Weight Loss
- Night sweats
- Loss of normal menstrual cycle
Other symptoms may include:
- Abdominal pain
- Weight loss
- Lack of energy
- Stunted growth and delayed puberty in children
- Mouth sores
- Back pain
Although one may have Crohn’s disease, the symptoms are not always active and may be in remission.
After realizing the signs and symptoms of Crohn’s disease, you can be diagnosed with the disease by requested lab tests by doctors, or requested the lab tests yourself so you can get specially and professionally checked for the disease. These lab tests check for signs of infection, inflammation, internal bleeding and low levels of mineral substances such as iron and protein. A health care provider can diagnose Crohn's disease by taking in account medical and family history, performing a physical exam, lab tests, computerized tomography scan (CT scan), or also an intestinal endoscopy. A CT scan uses special x-ray equipment to create detailed pictures of the body in order to locate where the pain and discomfort is coming from. To also mention, an intestinal endoscopy is a medical procedure that allows the doctor to see inside your gastrointestinal tract using a thin yet flexible tool that enables them to see the problem using an endoscope.
There are no exact diagnostic tests for Crohn's disease and therefore normally a specific pattern of symptoms indicate if a patient has this disease. Since the symptoms of this disease are quite general, it takes time to tell apart from different inflammatory intestinal diseases and diagnose with certainty.
However, patients with Crohn’s disease tend to have abnormality in (excluding the tests mentioned above):
- Blood tests – high number of white blood cells
- Autoantibody tests
- Stool tests – blood detected
- MR Enterography
- GI series – shows ulcers and fistulas
Crohn’s disease is treated by drug therapy or in certain cases, surgery because typically the immune system turns itself off after getting rid of bacteria or virus that has come into the body, but for someone with Crohn’s disease, the immune system stays on so it needs to be manually turned off with medicine or surgery. Therefore it is treated by anti-inflammatory drugs first because it is the treatment to inflammatory bowel disease. The next drug that is used to treat the immune system is immune system suppressors that also reduce inflammation but also target the immune system and eliminates the substances that cause inflammation. To also add, there is antibiotics to reduce the risk of infection. The medications will not relieve all the symptoms, although it will do it's best to eliminate as much as possible. Also, not only can the medication relieve symptoms of the aftermath from the inflammation, but rather it can prevent it before it happens by reducing the flare ups. Even though Crohn’s disease does not stem from bad eating habits, it can’t hurt to change the patient’s diet. This will promote healing, reduce symptoms, and replace lost nutrients. Also, many patients that suffer from this disease recommend that bland foods provides more comfort rather than foods that contain a lot of spice or salt that can irritate the digestive system. In many cases regardless of treatment, majority of patients with Crohn’s disease require surgery. Even though surgery does not completely cure the disease, it does significantly help preserve the individual’s gastrointestinal tract and help ensure that they have the best quality of life. Surgery becomes the number one option when the patient’s medicine no longer has the ability to control their symptoms and the pain becomes unbearable. During the surgery the doctor will remove a damaged portion of your digestive track (resection) and reconnect the rest to the healthy section (anastomosis). In most cases, the disease reoccurs roughly five to ten years prior to the surgery. Therefore, the best thing to do is take medication following the surgery to prevent the risk of recurrence. Although the symptoms can be managed with care and consulting with a doctor, there is no cure for Crohn's disease yet.
What are the causes?
Causes of Crohn's disease, the immune will system mistakenly attack healthy bacteria existing in the GI tract.
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