What is Crohn’s disease?
Crohn’s disease is a long-term inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) which causes inflammation in the lining of the digestive system. It is also known as ileitis or enteritis.
This condition or disease can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract, comprising of the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small and large intestines, and anus. In most of the people, however, the lower part of the small intestine, i.e. the ileum, is affected.
This inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) should not be confused with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
The damaging inflammation of Crohn’s can cause abdominal pain, frequent diarrhea and other symptoms which vary from mild to severe. In some cases, it can also be life-threatening.
How does Crohn’s disease occur?
In this disease, the immune system of the body attacks the harmless or the good bacteria, virus, or food in the gut that causes inflammation leading to bowel injury.
Since the immune system is involved, Crohn’s Disease is medically classified as an autoimmune disorder. It has not been clearly known as to why the immune system suddenly begins to attack the gut bacteria, and the food.
Due to the attack, white blood cells (WBC) accumulate in the lining of the gut, which triggers inflammation. Such inflammation leads to ulcerations and bowel injury.
Because of the exact cause of the malfunctioning immune system has not yet been found, scientists now believe that genetic factors may contribute in causing the Crohn’s Disease.
Furthermore, links have been found between this disease and mutations in genes located on chromosomes 5 and 10. These genetic variants can affect the bacteria in the digestive system.
Changes in the gut bacteria can cause the intestinal cells to respond to it abnormally, which in turn can cause inflammation and digestive issues that are associated with this disease.
What are the causes of Crohn’s disease?
Though the exact reasons of Crohn’s disease are not known, Scientist believes a number of factors can contribute to this disease such as:
- A family history of this disease
- A malfunctioning of the immune system that affects the gastrointestinal tract (GI Track), causing inflammation that contributes to symptoms
- Certain Virus, Bacteria, or some unidentified factor in the environment that triggers an abnormal immune response
- Cigarette smoking seems to contribute to the occurrence of this disease
What are the symptoms of Crohn’s disease?
The symptoms of Crohn’s disease are:
- Reduced appetite
- Weight loss
- Chronic diarrhea, often bloody and containing mucus and pus
- Mouth sores
- Abdominal pain and tenderness
- A feeling of a mass or fullness in the abdomen
- Rectal bleeding
Diagnosis of Crohn’s Disease
The gastroenterologist can diagnose this disease by advising you to undergo a bundle of tests and procedures such as:
- Stool tests
- Blood tests
- Sigmoidoscopy to check the lower bowel
- Colonoscopy to check the colon
- Endoscopy to investigate the upper part of the gut
- Barium enema X-ray to check the inside of the bowel
- CT scans for a 3-dimensional (3D) picture of the bowel
What are the complications of Crohn’s disease?
The complications of this disease include:
- Bowel obstruction
- Anal fissure
- Colon cancer
- Other diseases including anemia, skin disorders, osteoporosis, arthritis, and gallbladder or liver disease
- Inflammation of skin, eyes, and joints
- Inflammation of the liver or bile ducts
- Delayed growth or sexual development, in children
Who is prone to Crohn’s disease?
Some people are at higher risk of Crohn’s disease than others, such as:
- A person with a family history of the disease
- Women are quite more likely to develop Crohn’s disease than men
- A person who smokes a lot
- People who take NSAIDs – nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications.
- People within thirty years of age
What is the treatment of Crohn’s disease?
Medical Treatment for Crohn’s Disease :
There is currently no cure for this disease, and there is no one treatment that works for everyone. The focus of the treatment is to reduce your symptoms.
The doctor can prescribe anti-inflammatory medicines, immune system suppressors, antibiotics, pain relievers, antidiarrheals, and vitamin supplements.
In severe cases, the doctor can prescribe nutrition therapy, (wherein a specific diet given via a feeding tube, or nutrients injected into a vein to treat your Crohn’s disease), and can go for surgery also.
Dietary suggestions for people with Crohn’s disease
- Adjust your fiber intake
- Limit your fat intake
- Limit your dairy intake
- Drink water
- Consider alternative sources of vitamins and minerals
- Intake of Probiotics
History of Crohn’s disease
This disease is named after the famous gastroenterologist, Dr. Burrill Crohn. It 1st became regarded as a medical condition when it was described by Crohn and colleagues in 1932. But, the first explanation of Crohn’s disease was given by Giovanni Battista Morgagni, an Italian physician who diagnosed a patient suffering from a debilitating and long-term disease that caused diarrhea.
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