Crohn’s Disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease, that causes chronic, long-time inflammation of various parts of the gastrointestinal system especially the small intestine and colon. Named after the physician Burrill Bernard Crohn, an American gastroenterologist, who described the disease in the year 1932, Crohn’s disease is also known by the following names such as regional enteritis, granulomatous enteritis or colitis, ileitis, or terminal ileitis. The disease can be extremely painful, debilitating and can sometimes even be life-threatening.
Being similar in characteristics and symptoms, both Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative colitis fall under Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, where Crohn’s diseases cause inflammation of any part of the digestive, ulcerative colitis usually causes ulcerations and inflammations at the colon. However, both the diseases, when they start inflammation, they tend to fluctuate between periods of inactivity (remission) and activity (relapse). It is common in both men and women. Also Read: Ulcerative Colitis: Types, Symptoms And Treatment
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Although the exact cause of Crohn’s disease is yet unknown, however, some doctors suspect that it might happen due to a bacterial inflammation, mostly due to mycobacterium. Other causative factors include:
- Diet and Lifestyle
- Immune System
- Genetic Factor
Several pieces of research also show that some factors increase the risk of this disease. This includes:
- Common in people around 30 years old
- Family history of the disease
- Addiction to smoking
- Consuming medications like NSAID’s
Depending upon the location, extent and severity, Crohn’s disease is categorised into 4 types:
Inflammation is mostly confined to the colon and symptoms include abdominal pain, anal fistulae, perirectal abscesses or bloody diarrhoea.
Crohn’s Terminal Ileitis:
The inflammation usually occurs at the end of the small intestine near the colon i.e. the terminal ileum. Symptoms include abdominal pain, bloody diarrhoea and intestinal obstruction.
It refers to the inflammation that is confined to the small intestine i.e. either in the 2nd part, jejunum or the 3rd part ileum.
Crohn's Enterocolitis And Ileocolitis:
This type describes the occurrence of inflammation within both the small intestine and the colon.
The most common symptoms ranging from mild to chronic include:
- Blood in your stool
- Abdominal cramps
- Loss of appetite
- Sudden weight loss
- Feeling as if your bowels aren’t empty after a bowel movement
- Feeling a frequent need for bowel movements
- Inflammation of the liver or bile ducts
- Inflammation of skin, eyes and joints
- Delayed growth or sexual development, in children
If the disease is left untreated, it can take a severe form and ultimately lead to:
- Bowel obstruction
- Anal Fissure
- Colon Cancer
- Other health abnormalities
Diagnosis And Treatment
It is strictly advised to consult a doctor right away if you notice any of the above-mentioned signs and symptoms. The doctor or gastroenterologist usually does a thorough physical check-up, acknowledges the patient’s past medical history followed by a few tests which include:
- Blood Test to rule out anaemia or other infections
- Faecal Occult Blood Test
- Capsule Endoscopy
- Balloon-assisted Enteroscopy
- Imaging techniques like CT-scan, X-ray, and MRI-scan
Although there is no absolute cure for Crohn’s disease, doctors usually prescribe medications to reduce the inflammation that triggers the signs and symptoms and provide relief from the intense pain. These medications include:
- Anti-inflammatory medicines
- Anti-diarrhoeal medicines
- Pain-relieving medications
- Vitamin B-12 shots
- Supplements including Vitamin D, Iron and Calcium
- The doctor may also suggest making some dietary changes to reduce inflammation caused due to food. Also Read: Digestive Disorders: 7 Ways To Improve Gut Health
If the treatment options, lifestyle modifications and dietary changes don’t provide relief from the pain and inflammation caused due to this disease, as a last resort, the doctor usually performs a surgical procedure to remove the infected part.