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Crohn’s Disease

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Introduction

Crohn’s disease is a medical condition which still needs to be researched well to arrive at definitive conclusions regarding medications and treatment. Crohn’s disease is very indiscriminate when selecting patients and affects both men and women equally. It is usually diagnosed in the early teens or during the early 20s but can affect a person of any age group.

Description

Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease that can affect any part of your digestive tract: right from your mouth to the anus. It mostly occurs in the lower part of the gastrointestinal tract, comprising the small intestine and colon.

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What are the Categories of Crohn’s Disease?

Depending upon the part affected, Crohn’s disease is divided into a range of categories:

  • Ileocolitis : Both the lower end of the small intestine, also known as terminal ileum, and the colon are affected.
  • Ileitis : The ileum is affected.
  • Gastroduodenal : The beginning of the small intestine called the duodenum and the stomach are affected.
  • Jejunoileitis : Jejunum or the secondary part of the small intestine, located below the duodenum, is affected.
  • Granulomatous Colitis : The entire colon suffers from inflammation.

What Causes Crohn’s Disease?

The exact causes behind Crohn’s disease are yet to be figured. Some of the factors responsible for it are:

  • ● Family History
  • ● Impaired immunity
  • ● Presence of Mycobacterium avium in the gastrointestinal tract. The immune system misinterprets these bacteria as foreign invaders and lodges a sharp response which results in inflammation.
  • ● Excessive consumption of animal proteins
  • ● People residing in industrial surroundings and northern climates are more prone to it.

Smoking, stress, and NSAIDs (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) can exacerbate the situation but are not directly responsible for Crohn’s disease.

What are the Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease?

Most of the diseases affecting the bowel display similar symptoms, such as abdominal pain and diarrhea. The symptoms associated explicitly with Crohn’s disease are:

  • ● Abdominal distension or the expansion of the abdomen due to accumulation of fluids.
  • ● Frequent instances of inflammation and their remission
  • ● Bloating
  • ● Blood in stool
  • ● Nausea and vomiting
  • ● Itching around anus
  • ● Weight loss due to the reduction in intake of food

What are the Complications of Crohn’s Disease?

If not diagnosed and treated timely, Crohn’s disease can lead to further complications such as:

  • ● Inflammation in eyes, skin or joints in the body
  • ● Stones in the gallbladder
  • ● Ulcers in the mouth
  • ● Anemia
  • ● Fistula
  • ● Abscesses
  • ● Cancer in the area having inflammation
  • ● Thrombus or blood clots
  • ● Osteoporosis or low bone mass
  • ● Stroke and depression

How is Crohn’s Disease Diagnosed?

Early diagnosis is the only remedy to avoid further complications. Once you visit a doctor, the exact medical condition will be diagnosed through an elimination technique that involves several tests.

This is preceded by specific queries regarding your family history, diet, and any ongoing medication.  Blood and stool samples will be collected. An X-Ray of the gastrointestinal tract may follow it. Other diagnostic techniques which the doctor might use are:

  • ● Colonoscopy to examine the colon
  • ● Upper endoscopy to inspect the entire area extending till the duodenum
  • ● Chromoendoscopy to rule out the possibilities of cancer
  • ● Biopsy, which involves extracting tissues from your intestine for further testing
  • ● The doctor will ask you to swallow a small camera which is excreted later. It helps in taking images of very remote corners of the intestine.

These diagnostic tests might require you to empty your bowels beforehand. The doctor will guide you about the preparations you’ll need to make.

How is Crohn’s Disease Treated?

There is no specific treatment for Crohn’s disease. A few medicines, lifestyle alterations and changes in dietary plans are required. The doctor might prescribe medication to reduce inflammation and treat abscesses. Crohn’s disease impacts your state of mind as there is always a risk of faecal incontinence, which might be embarrassing for the people the syndrome targets. Since the disease is chronic, undergoing surgery for it might be futile. But, it may be required if the medicines fail to deliver desired results. In surgery, the damaged part of the gastrointestinal tract is removed.

Result : Research has shown that around 75% of people having Crohn’s disease will have to undergo surgery at some stage of their life. But, this does not eliminate the disease. Medications can help improve the situation, but they too can’t be taken for long spells. Thus, alternative biotherapies and a healthy lifestyle can help in the long run.

What are the Risks Associated with Treatment for Crohn’s Disease?

People who undergo surgery have to deal with Crohn’s disease again and seek treatment for it. The surgery also has certain complications associated with it, such as:

  • ● Short bowel syndrome, arising from the removal of a portion of the intestine
  • ● Cramping
  • ● Heartburn
  • ● Bile acid diarrhoea

The medication for Crohn’s disease has well-known side effects, which can be as severe as infertility in men.

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FAQ's

What Changes can I make in my Dietary Habits to Reduce the Effect of Crohn’s Disease?

Certain items can trigger Crohn’s Disease, such as foods that cause gas, carbonated drinks, caffeine, animal proteins and alcohol. In short, you should cut short on all those things which might cause inflammation.

What are the Alternative Therapies for Crohn’s Disease?

Meditation, acupuncture, yoga, medical cannabis and probiotics are some alternative therapies for Crohn’s Disease.

Can I Inherit Crohn’s Disease from my Parents?

Yes, genetic factors are known to play an essential role in the occurrence of Crohn’s Disease. If either of your parents has Crohn’s Disease, you are 30 times more prone to get it than the rest of the population.

Is the Surgery for Crohn's Disease Effective?

Surgery can temporarily solve the problem in case medicines don’t work. But, it’s not a permanent solution to it.

How Serious is Crohn’s Disease?

Any disease left untreated is life-threatening. Crohn’s Disease is said to lower life expectancy.

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