Crohn’s Disease : symptoms, causes and diagnosis
A type of IBD, Crohn’s disease affects the bowel. According to the Crohn’s & Colitis
Foundation of America (CCFA), 780,000 Americans have the condition.
There is a need for more research on Crohn’s disease. The best way to treat it can’t be predicted, nor are researchers sure how it starts. The disease has not been cured despite major advances in treatment over the last three decades.
Small intestine and colon are the most common sites of Crohn’s disease. You can get it anywhere along your gastrointestinal (GI) tract, from the mouth to the anus. Certain parts of the GI tract may be affected while others may not.
Crohn’s disease ranges from mild to debilitating in severity. Affected individuals may experience various symptoms that change over time. The disease can cause flares and complications that are life-threatening in severe cases.
The following information will help you understand Crohn’s disease.
It is common for Crohn’s disease symptoms to develop gradually. In some cases, some symptoms can get worse over time. Symptoms often don’t appear suddenly and dramatically, although it is possible. Here are some of the earliest symptoms of Crohn’s:
- and cramping in the abdomen
- and blood in the stool
- lack of appetite
- loss of weight
- After a bowel movement, you feel as though your bowels aren’t empty
- frequently feeling the urge to urinate
These symptoms are sometimes misdiagnosed as food poisoning, an upset stomach, or an allergy. If these symptoms persist, you should see your doctor.
As the disease progresses, the symptoms may worsen. The following symptoms may worsen:
You may experience pain and drainage near your anus due to a perianal fistula
ulcer that may occur anywhere between your mouth and your anus
joint or skin inflammation
caused by anemia or shortness of breath
You can avoid severe complications when you start treatment early through early detection and diagnosis.
What causes Crohn’s disease?
The cause of Crohn’s disease is unclear. Nevertheless, the following factors may contribute to its development:
- an immune system
- your genes
- your environment
The CCFA reports that up to 20 percent of people with Crohn’s disease have a parent, sibling, or child who also suffers from the disease.
The severity of your symptoms can be affected by certain factors, according to a 2012 study.
These factors include:
- whether you smoke
- your age
- and whether the rectum is involved
- and the duration of your disease
Those with Crohn’s disease are also more likely to contract bacterial, viral, parasitic, or fungal infections in their intestinal tracts. These infections may exacerbate symptoms and cause complications.
This type of infection can also be made worse by Crohn’s disease and its treatments, which affect the immune system.
Both the lungs and the intestinal tract can be affected by yeast infections in Crohn’s disease. Antifungal medications should be used to treat these infections properly to prevent further complications.
Is Crohn’s disease an autoimmune disease?
Your immune system attacks your body in error when you have an autoimmune condition, resulting in inflammation. Even though the immune system may contribute to inflammation in Crohn’s, it has not yet been classified as an autoimmune disease since the causes have not yet been discovered.
Diagnosis of Crohn’s disease
Your doctor cannot diagnose Crohn’s disease based on a single test result. Molecular testing is the first step towards diagnosing Crohn’s disease.
There are several types of tests doctors can use to diagnose Crohn’s disease:
- Doctors can use blood tests to look for certain indicators of potential problems, such as anemia and inflammation.
- Your doctor can check your stool for blood in your gastrointestinal tract with a stool test.
- An endoscopy is a procedure that allows your doctor to see inside your upper gastrointestinal tract more clearly.
- To examine your large bowel, your doctor may recommend a colonoscopy.
- A CT scan and an MRI scan provide the doctor with more details than an average X-ray.
Each test allows your doctor to view specific tissue and organ areas.
As part of an endoscopy or colonoscopy, your doctor will likely take a tissue sample, or biopsy, to examine your intestinal tract tissue more closely.
Your doctor may determine that you have Crohn’s disease after reviewing all your tests and ruling out other causes for your symptoms.
In order to determine how the disease is progressing and locate affected tissue, your doctor may request these testing several more times.
You can use Healthline FindCare to find a primary care doctor or gastroenterologist in your area.
Treatment of Crohn’s disease
The disease can be managed, but there is no cure for Crohn’s disease yet. It is possible to reduce the severity and frequency of symptoms with a variety of treatment options.
There are many types of medications that can be used for Crohn’s disease. The most common drugs used are antidiarrheal and anti-inflammatory drugs. Biotechnology, which uses the immune system of the body to treat disease, is a more advanced treatment option.
You will need different medications, or combinations of medications, depending on your symptoms, your disease history, and how well you respond to treatment.
Oral 5-aminosalicylates and corticosteroids are the two main types of anti-inflammatory drugs doctors use to treat Crohn’s disease. In the course of treating Crohn’s disease, you usually start with anti-inflammatory medication.
These medications are usually taken when a flare-up of the disease is infrequent.
A corticosteroid should only be taken for a short period of time for more severe symptoms.
The inflammation that leads to Crohn’s disease is caused by an overactive immune system.
Immunomodulators, or drugs that block your immune system, can reduce inflammation and limit your immune response.
The use of antibiotics is said to reduce some symptoms of Crohn’s disease as well as some of its triggers.
Aside from reducing drainage and healing fistulas, antibiotics can also reduce Crohn’s symptoms like abnormal connections between tissues.
To treat the inflammation and complications of Crohn’s, your doctor may recommend one of a number of biologic therapies. Such treatments may work by blocking certain proteins that cause inflammation.
Surgery may be needed if less invasive treatments and lifestyle changes do not relieve your
symptoms. The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) reports that 75 percent of
Crohn’s disease patients will require surgery at some point in their lives.