A chronic condition known as Crohn's disease causes inflammation and irritation in the intestines, especially in the small and large intestines. Crohn's disease is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that affects several parts of the digestive system. Aside from abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss, and rectal bleeding, Crohn's disease can also result in complications such as bowel obstruction, ulcers, fistulas, and malnutrition. The disease has no known cure, but treatments can manage symptoms and prevent further damage to the intestines.
There is no known cause of Crohn's disease. However, there are some factors that may contribute to its development or worsening:
People who have a family history of Crohn's disease or who belong to certain ethnic groups, such as Ashkenazi Jews, may inherit genes that make them more susceptible to the disease.
Infections, foreign substances, or unknown factors can trigger an abnormal immune response that causes the body to attack its own tissues in the digestive tract.
Environmental factors, such as smoking, stress, diet, medications, or exposure to bacteria or viruses, may increase Crohn's disease risk or severity.
Crohn's disease symptoms vary depending on the location and extent of the inflammation in the digestive tract. Common symptoms include:
Crohn's disease may also cause symptoms outside the digestive tract, such as:
A diagnosis of Crohn's disease is based on a combination of a medical history, physical examination, and various tests. Some of the tests that can be used to diagnose Crohn's disease are:
Tests for infection, inflammation, anemia, and nutritional deficiencies.
Testing the stool for blood, bacteria, parasites, or other abnormalities.
The endoscope is a thin tube attached to a camera and light that allows you to examine the inside of your digestive tract. The endoscope can be inserted through the mouth (upper endoscopy) or through the anus (colonoscopy) to view different parts of the digestive tract. Biopsies (tissue samples) can also be collected with the endoscope.
Images of the digestive tract can be created using different techniques, such as X-rays (barium enema), ultrasounds (sonography), computed tomography (CT scan), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI scan), or capsule endoscopies.
Tests to evaluate the function of other organs or systems affected by Crohn's disease, such as liver function tests, kidney function tests, bone density tests, or eye exams.
The treatment of Crohn’s disease aims to reduce inflammation, relieve symptoms, prevent complications, and improve quality of life. Several factors influence the treatment plan, including the type, location, and severity of Crohn’s disease, the patient’s age, medical history, and preferences, as well as the response to previous treatments. Here are some of the treatment options:
Crohn's disease medications are used to control inflammation, infection, pain, and other symptoms.
Anti-inflammatory drugs: Such as aminosalicylates (mesalamine, sulfasalazine), corticosteroids (prednisone, budesonide), and immunomodulators (azathioprine, methotrexate).
Medicines that target specific molecules involved in inflammation, such as monoclonal antibodies (infliximab, adalimumab, certolizumab pegol, ustekinumab) and integrin inhibitors (vedolizumab, natalizumab).
Treatment or prevention of infections or complications with antibiotics such as metronidazole, ciprofloxacin, or rifaximin.
Lopseramide or bismuth subsalicylate are antidiarrheals that reduce diarrhea and fluid loss.
To ease mild to moderate pain, you can take acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Narcotics such as hydrocodone or codeine can be used for severe pain, but they can cause side effects.
Treatment of anemia caused by blood loss or malabsorption with iron supplements.
The purpose of vitamin supplements is to correct nutritional deficiencies caused by malabsorption or dietary restrictions.
As a result of surgery, damaged or diseased parts of the digestive tract are removed, fistulas or strictures are repaired, or a stoma is created to eliminate waste. When medications fail to control symptoms or complications, or when quality of life is severely impaired, surgery is usually considered. Surgery is not a cure for Crohn's disease, however, and inflammation may return in other parts of the digestive tract afterward.
Maintaining a balanced and healthy diet that provides adequate calories, protein, vitamins, and minerals may be helpful in treating Crohn's disease.
Reducing the workload on the digestive system by eating smaller and more frequent meals.
Foods that may trigger or worsen symptoms, such as spicy, fatty, fried, or high-fiber foods, dairy products, alcohol, caffeine, or carbonated drinks, should be avoided.
To prevent diarrhea-induced dehydration and electrolyte imbalance, drink plenty of fluids.
Nutritional supplements or enteral nutrition (liquid formula delivered through a tube) if oral intake is inadequate or not tolerated.
To cope with the physical and emotional challenges of living with Crohn's disease, lifestyle changes may be helpful.
Taking steps to reduce the risk and severity of Crohn's disease and its complications by quitting smoking.
Reduce inflammation and symptoms by managing stress.
Regular exercise improves blood circulation, muscle strength, bone health, mood, and overall health.
Getting support from family, friends, health professionals, or support groups to share experiences, learn coping strategies, and cope emotionally.
Some preventive measures that may reduce Crohn's disease risk or severity include:
Controlling inflammation and symptoms and preventing complications by following the prescribed treatment plan.
It is important to have regular check-ups and tests in order to monitor the condition and detect any changes or problems as early as possible.
Smoking, stress, dietary irritants, or infections may trigger or worsen Crohn's disease.
Eating a balanced diet, drinking enough fluids, practicing good hygiene, and avoiding nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) that may damage the stomach or intestine lining are all ways to protect the digestive tract's health.
A chronic inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn's disease causes inflammation and irritation in the digestive tract. In addition to abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss, and rectal bleeding, Crohn's disease can also cause complications, including bowel obstruction, ulceration, fistulas, and malnutrition. Although there is no known cure for Crohn's disease, treatments can help manage the symptoms and prevent further damage. There are different ways in which Crohn’s disease can affect different parts of the digestive system and different people. It is important to consult a doctor for a diagnosis and treatment and to follow a personalized care plan that meets the needs and preferences of the patient. Crohn's disease is not a life-threatening condition, but it can affect a person's quality of life and well-being. In order to cope with the physical and emotional challenges of living with Crohn's disease, it is advisable to seek support from family, friends, health professionals, or support groups.