Crohn’s Disease

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Overview

Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory condition of the bowel which is both debilitating and painful, and can often prove fatal due to complications. Besides the bowel, it can also affect other parts of your digestive tract.

Causes

The exact cause behind Crohn’s disease is not known. Following are some risk factors:

  • Activation of the immune system by a virus/bacteria
  • Hereditary factors
  • Age
  • Ethnicity
  • Family history
  • Cigarette smoking

Symptoms

The most common site for Crohn’s is the ileum (the last part of the small intestine) and the colon. Signs and symptoms of Crohn’s disease vary according to the severity and duration of the disease and, include the following:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Abdominal pain and discomfort
  • Bloody stool
  • Oral ulcers
  • Pain upon defecation

Extra-Intestinal signs include:

  • Inflammation of skin, eyes and joints
  • Inflammation of liver and bileducts
  • Delayed physical or sexual growth in children
  • Bowel ulcers, fistulas, malnourishment, colon cancer are some serious complications of this disease.

Diagnosis

Crohn’s disease is a diagnosis of exclusion: meaning that it is diagnosed after excluding all other possible causes. Blood tests and stool analysis may help in the diagnosis. Endoscopic examination and other imaging studies such as CT scan, MRI, capsule endoscopy etc. can also be utilized depending upon requirement.

Treatment

There is no treatment for Crohn’s disease. Management is aimed at reducing inflammation and can utilize the following agents:

  • Corticosteroids
  • Oral 5-aminosalicylates
  • Immunosuppressants
  • Anti-biotics
  • Anti-diarrheal
  • Pain relievers

Nutritional therapy and surgery are also two modes of treatments that can be used.

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