By Apollo 24/7, Published on - 24 August 2021
A person experiencing abdominal pain, cramps, diarrhoea, weight loss, and rectal bleeding over prolonged periods could be affected by Crohn’s disease. This health condition belongs to a group of inflammatory diseases of the digestive tract known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The inflammation of the digestive tract (particularly the small and large intestine) causes periods of active symptoms followed by periods of remission. The condition affects both men and women equally and can occur at any age but is most often experienced by people in their 20s or early 30s. While there is no cure for Crohn’s disease, controlling the symptoms can help individuals affected by it, to lead active lives.
The main function of the intestines is to absorb excess water and salts once the food is digested. In Crohn’s disease, intestinal inflammation affects the primary functions of the intestines including water absorption resulting in diarrhoea.
Crohn’s disease can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract or digestive tract, from the mouth to the anus. However, the disease most often affects the small and large intestines (last segment of small intestine and first segment of large intestine). The inflammation can extend to deeper layers of the intestine, affecting the entire thickness of the intestinal wall. Over time, Crohn’s disease can cause swelling in parts of the intestine, blocking the flow of contents in the digestive tract. Chronic inflammation can also result in open sores called ulcers anywhere in the digestive tract.
Types of Crohn’s disease: Crohn’s disease is classified into different types based on the segment of the gastrointestinal tract affected.
Researchers do not know the cause of Crohn’s disease. However, they believe that a combination of genetic factors and an abnormally functioning immune system may lead to the development of Crohn’s disease.
The main symptoms of Crohn’s disease include:
Other symptoms include fever, anaemia, joint pain or soreness, eye pain and redness, nausea, or loss of appetite.
The diagnosis of Crohn’s disease include:
There is no cure for Crohn’s disease. Treatment aims to reduce intestinal inflammation, ease symptoms, and prevent further disease progression and complications.
Bowel rest involves a liquid diet that contains all the nutrients the body requires. Bowel rest may involve not eating and not even taking fluids for several days. This provides rest to the intestines and a chance to heal.
Surgery may be recommended to treat complications and alleviate symptoms when other treatments are not effective. Surgery involves removing the damaged part of the intestine in the case of blockages or bleeding.
Lifestyle changes can help ease symptoms and reduce flare-ups. These include:
Crohn’s disease flare-ups are unpredictable and can disrupt one’s quality of life. Hence, it is crucial to control disease activity and keep the disease in remission. A gastroenterologist can offer the right treatment along with healthy lifestyle changes to manage the symptoms of Crohn’s disease and prevent complications. Lifestyle changes mostly involve dietary changes accompanied by quitting smoking, regular exercising, and stress management.
For any questions or concerns regarding digestive health, you can consult a gastroenterologist.
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