Crohn’s disease is an inflammation of
the digestive tract, thought to be caused by an abnormal immune
reaction to food, bacteria, or even the lining of the intestines
Symptoms of Crohn's Disease
Common symptoms of Crohn’s disease are:
- Abdominal pain
- Blood in the stool
- Black, tar-like stool
- Weight loss and malnutrition
- Anal fissures or fistulas
Because of the abnormal immune response in Crohn’s disease,
patients may also experience the following less common symptoms:
- Joint aches or pain
- Eye’s sensitivity to light
- Mouth ulcers
Crohn’s Disease Diagnosis
Your doctor would perform the following tests to diagnose Crohn’s
Who Gets Crohn’s Disease?
Although the exact cause of Crohn’s disease is unknown,
it is thought that there is a genetic predisposition to developing
this disease. Approximately 10 to 15% of patients have a family
history of this disorder or another inflammatory bowel disease
called ulcerative colitis.
In some early onset Crohn’s disease, the symptoms begin
in teenage or young adulthood. In most cases, however, Crohn’s
disease develops between the ages of 20 to 40 years.
Management of Crohn's Disease
If you have Crohn’s disease, you can reduce the symptoms
and prevent malnutrition by:
- Eating a diet rich in nutrients and proteins in small portions
more frequently (5 or 6 small meals a day, instead of the usual
3 large meals a day)
- Avoiding food that is spicy or hard to digest
- Avoiding caffeine, lactose, and alcohol
- Drinking plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration because of
Treatment for Crohn’s Disease
There is no cure for Crohn’s disease, and the treatment
for this condition varies according to its severity and symptoms.
Treatments for Crohn’s disease include:
- Medications, such as anti-inflammatory and
Research into Crohn’s disease suggests that medications
that suppress the immune system may help – however, these
may have the side effects of making the body more susceptible
to opportunistic infections.
- Nutritional and vitamin supplements
- Alternative feeding, such as enteric
feeding (liquid diet) and parenteral nutrition
Patients that have advanced cases of Crohn’s disease,
such as those with recurrent bowel obstruction, abscesses, strictures
or narrowing of the digestive tract, may require the surgical
removal of the bowel.
Nearly half of all people suffering from Crohn’s disease
will require surgery – usually 8 to 10 years after the initial
appearance of the symptoms.