Crohn’s disease is a condition that causes the bowels to become inflamed and mostly affects the distal colon and ileum. The symptoms of the disease vary between different people as well as in the level severity, and sometimes a person might be in remission when they don’t have any symptoms. The disease commonly starts in childhood but it can affect people any age.
Crohn’s disease does not have a cure but management of the symptoms enables you to live a comfortable life. A practicing Santa Monica, CA family medicine physician will make a diagnosis of the condition by asking about and noting your history, completing an examination, and conducting laboratory and imaging tests. They can also work to manage your symptoms using anti-inflammatory medicines, painkillers, or immunosuppressants. They will also advise you about lifestyle modifications that will help.
What Causes Crohn’s Disease?
It has been difficult to point out what exactly causes Crohn’s disease but it is thought that an abnormal reaction of the immune system where it attacks your digestive system as it fights infection is one of the causes. A genetic predisposition is also thought to play a part in causation because Crohn’s has been reported in people with a family history of Crohn’s. Having a prior gut infection also increases the risk of developing Crohn’s disease.
Cigarette smoking is also thought to contribute to the development of the disease and is also associated with severe symptoms. Age is another significant factor because many people start to experience the disease at a young age. The disease also occurs at a higher rate in individuals of Caucasian ethnicity in comparison to many other ethnic groups. Eating a fatty diet or one made up primarily from fast food is also thought to contribute to Crohn’s. The use of NSAIDs actually aggravates disease symptoms.
What Are the Symptoms of Crohn’s disease?
Crohn’s disease presents itself through diarrhea, abdominal pain, abdominal cramps, and fatigue. Because of the infection, you can also develop a fever. You may also notice blood in the stool. Crohn’s causes you to lose your appetite and this will cause you to lose weight. This may delay growth and puberty onset in children. You may also develop pain in the rectum during bowel movements because of inflammation.
Crohn’s can also present itself with inflammation in other body parts like the joints, along the skin, and in the eyes causing them to appear red, swollen, and become painful. The liver and the biliary system may also become inflamed. You should consult your doctor when you experience any of these symptoms so that you can get treated to avoid complications.
Since the disease has no cure, the symptoms must be managed conservatively in an attempt at “modifying” the disease. You should reduce the number of dairy products that you consume because lactose intolerance may worsen diarrhea. You should also avoid fatty foods because they can worsen diarrhea. Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol because these also tend to worsen the symptoms.
Stay well hydrated by drinking 7 to 8 glasses of water per day to replenish fluids lost through diarrhea. It is advisable to consume small portions of meals at regular intervals rather than large and less frequent portions. Exercise and stress management will also help to manage the symptoms.
What Are the Possible Complications of Crohn’s Disease?
The inflammation that occurs due to Crohn’s disease may thicken the gut walls, causing it to become narrow and possibly cause bowel obstruction. Diarrhea can cause dehydration or malnutrition. The inflammation may also cause ulcers to develop.
These ulcers may erode further to cause fistulas in the perianal area. Crohn’s disease also increases the risk of anemia and colonic cancer. Long term treatment with steroids can increase the risk of other chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension. You should consult a doctor early on to avoid these complications.
Crohn’s disease causes the intestine to become inflamed and presents itself with diarrhea, abdominal pain, and weight loss. When untreated, complications like ulcers, fistula, and anemia can occur. You should see a doctor immediately when you notice the symptoms to avoid these complications from developing.