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Crohn’s Disease

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Crohn's disease is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) causing inflammation of the lining of your digestive tract, which can lead to abdominal pain, severe diarrhea and even malnutrition.

It most commonly affects the last part of the small intestine (ileum) and/or the large intestine (colon and rectum). The inflammation caused by Crohn's disease often spreads deep into the layers of affected bowel tissue.

Symptoms

Crohn's disease can affect any part of the intestine therefore symptoms vary from patient to patient.

Symptoms of Crohn's disease can range from mild to severe and may develop gradually or come on suddenly, without warning. There may be periods of time when you have no symptoms at all. When the disease is active, signs and symptoms may include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain and cramping
  • Blood in your stool
  • Ulcers
  • Reduced appetite and weight loss
  • Bloating
  • Anal pain or drainage
  • Skin lesions
  • Rectal abscess
  • Fissure

People with severe Crohn's disease may also experience:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Arthritis
  • Eye inflammation
  • Mouth sores
  • Skin disorders
  • Inflammation of the liver or bile ducts

Causes and Risk Factors

The exact cause of Crohn’s disease is not known. Some theories believe that immunologic dysfunction and hereditary play some role. Crohn's disease affects men and women equally and appears to be common in some families. About 20 percent of people with Crohn's disease have a relative with some form of inflammatory bowel disease.

Risk factors also include:

  • Age is considered a risk factor since Crohn’s disease typically diagnosed between 16 and 30 years of age.
  • Being of Eastern European Jewish descent
  • Family history of Crohn’s disease or other inflammatory bowel disease
  • Cigarette smoking

Diagnostic Tests

Your doctor will likely diagnose Crohn's disease only after ruling out other possible causes for your signs and symptoms, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diverticulitis and colon cancer.

To help confirm a diagnosis of Crohn's disease, you may have one or more of the following tests and procedures:

  • Blood tests to check for anemia or signs of infection
  • Blood test to test for blood in your stool.
  • Colonoscopy
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy
  • Computerized tomography (CT) scan to look at the entire bowel as well as at tissues outside the bowel that can't be seen with other tests
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to evaluate a fistula around the anal area or small intestine
  • Barium enema X-ray

Treatment and Procedures

There is no cure for Crohn's disease. Treatment for Crohn’s disease focuses on alleviating the symptoms.

Treatment for Crohn's disease usually involves drug therapy or, in certain cases, surgery.

  • Anti-inflammatory drugs 
  • Immune system suppressors
  • Antibiotics
  • Anti-diarrheals
  • Laxatives
  • Pain relievers

Surgery is recommended if diet, lifestyle changes, and drug therapies don’t relieve your symptoms. Your surgeon removes the damaged portion of your digestive tract and then reconnects the healthy sections. Surgery may also be used to close fistulas and drain abscesses. Strictureplasty is a common surgical procedure which widens a segment of the intestine that has become too narrow.

Your health is our greatest concern. Please contact the Center for Colon & Rectal Surgery at 407.303.2615for a private consultation today.