Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory disease that causes inflammation in the digestive system, which can lead to abdominal pain, acute diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss, and malnutrition. Inflammation caused by Crohn’s disease can involve different areas of the digestive system in different people.
Although there is no cure for Crohn’s disease, treatments can significantly reduce its signs and symptoms and bring about long-term remission.
What are the symptoms of Crohn’s disease?
Signs and symptoms of Crohn’s disease can be mild or severe. It usually develops gradually, but sometimes it occurs suddenly and without warning. You may experience no signs or symptoms for periods while the disease is active.
Symptoms and signs include:
- Abdominal pain and cramps
- Blood in stool
- Mouth sores
- Loss of appetite and weight loss
- Pain or drainage near or around the anus due to inflammation from a channel in the skin (fistula)
What is the cause of Crohn’s disease?
The exact cause of Crohn’s disease remains unknown. However, several factors are likely to play a role in this condition, such as genetics and immune system dysfunction.
What are the complications of Crohn’s disease?
Crohn’s disease affects the thickness of the bowel wall. Over time, the intestine may scar and narrow, which may block the flow of digestive contents.
Chronic inflammation caused by Crohn’s disease can lead to open sores anywhere in your digestive system, including your mouth and anus, and in the genital area.
The ulcers can sometimes extend through the intestinal wall, forming a fistula. Fistulas can develop between the intestine and the skin or between the intestine and other organs.
A small tear in the tissue that lines the anus or the skin around the anus. Anal fissures can cause painful bowel movements and can lead to a perianal fistula.
Diarrhea, abdominal pain, and cramps may make it difficult for you to eat or for your gut to absorb enough nutrients to provide you with nutrition. It is also common to develop anemia due to a deficiency of iron or vitamin B12 caused by the disease.
Having Crohn’s disease that damages the colon increases the risk of colon cancer.
Other Health Problems
These include anemia, skin disorders, osteoporosis, arthritis, and gallbladder or liver disease.
How is Crohn’s disease diagnosed?
Your doctor may run several tests to help confirm a diagnosis of Crohn’s disease, including:
These include testing for anemia and infection and fecal occult blood test.
This test allows the doctor to see the entire colon and the end of the ileum using a thin, flexible, lighted tube with an attached camera. During this procedure, your doctor may also take small tissue samples (biopsy) for laboratory analysis, which may help confirm the diagnosis.
Computerized tomography (CT) Scan
This examination looks at all the intestine as well as the tissues outside of it. A CT scan provides better images of the small intestine.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
Magnetic resonance imaging is especially useful in evaluating any fistula in the anal area or the small intestine.
To perform this test, the doctor will ask you to swallow a capsule with a camera in it. The camera takes pictures of your small intestine, which are transmitted to a tape recorder that you attach to your belt. The images are then downloaded onto a computer and examined for signs of Crohn’s disease. The camera leaves your body in stool without feeling any pain.
Balloon-assisted small intestine endoscopy
The endoscope is used in conjunction with a device called an upper tube. This enables the doctor to get a closer look at the small intestine where other endoscopes cannot reach. This procedure is useful when capsule endoscopy shows the presence of disorders, but the diagnosis is still under investigation.
How is Crohn’s disease treated?
There is no cure for Crohn’s disease, and there is no specific treatment that works for everyone. Treatment mainly aims to reduce the inflammation that triggers your signs and symptoms. It is also intended to improve long-term prognosis by reducing complications. In the best case, this will not only relieve symptoms but also lead to long-term recovery.
Also, your doctor may recommend a diet low in waste or fiber to reduce the risk of bowel obstruction if you have a narrowed intestine (bowel narrowing). A low-waste diet is designed to reduce the volume of stools and the number of times you pass stools.
If diet and lifestyle changes, medication, or other treatment methods do not relieve signs and symptoms, your doctor may recommend surgery. During surgery, the surgeon removes a damaged section of the gut and then reconnects the healthy sections. Surgery may also be used to close fistulas and drain abscesses.