Crohn’s disease is a form of inflammatory bowel disease that lasts a person’s entire life. It is also referred to as regional enteritis or ileitis (IBD). Because of this condition, the digestive tract, and especially the small and large intestines, can become swollen and sore.
Crohn’s disease has been linked to both diarrhea and abdominal pain. It’s not unusual for people with a disease to have flare-ups of it from time to time.
Dr. Burrill Crohn, an American gastroenterologist, is the one responsible for giving the disease its name (1884-1983). In 1932, he was one of the first doctors to explain what the illness is all about.
Another type of IBD that is frequently diagnosed is ulcerative colitis.
How prevalent is the condition known as Crohn’s?
It is estimated that half a million people in the United States suffer from Crohn’s disease. This can include adults, adolescents, and even younger children.
Who is at risk of developing Crohn’s disease?
People in their younger years, typically in their late teens, 20s, or early 30s, are the ones who are diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. Having said that, this condition can manifest itself at any age. Young children are also susceptible to developing Crohn’s disease.
If you smoke cigarettes, your risk of developing Crohn’s disease may be greater than the risk that non-smokers face.
When a person has Crohn’s disease, there is a risk of damage to many parts of the digestive tract.
There are many subtypes of Crohn’s disease, including:
· Ileocolitis is an inflammation that affects the small intestine as well as a portion of the colon, which is the large intestine. The most common manifestation of Crohn’s disease is called ileocolitis.
· Ileitis is a condition in which the small intestine develops swelling and inflammation (ileum).
· Gastroduodenal is a condition causes inflammation and irritation in the stomach as well as the upper portion of the small intestine (the duodenum).
· Jejunoileitis is a condition in which the upper part of the small intestine (called the jejunum) gets patches of inflammation.
There is currently no explanation as to what causes Crohn’s disease. Some things, like the ones listed below, may put you at a higher risk of getting the disease:
Bacteria in the digestive system could cause an autoimmune response, in which the body’s immune system attacks healthy cells.
Inflammatory bowel disease, also known as IBD, frequently runs in families. If a parent, sibling, or another family member in your immediate or extended family has Crohn’s disease, you may have an increased risk of developing the condition yourself. A person’s risk of developing Crohn’s disease is increased if they have one or more of the specific mutations (changes) that can occur in their genes.
If you smoke cigarettes, your risk of developing Crohn’s disease could be increased by as much as 100%.
Signs and Symptoms
People who have Crohn’s disease may go through periods in which they have severe symptoms (called flare-ups), followed by periods in which they have no symptoms or only very mild symptoms (remission). The period of remission can range from weeks to even years. Because of this, there is no way to anticipate when flare-ups will occur.
Having Crohn’s disease can cause a variety of symptoms, some of which include the following:
- Abdominal pain
- Diarrhea that persists over time.
- A loss of appetite on your part.
- The loss of weight
- Abnormal skin tags (usually on your buttocks)
- Anal fissures
- Anal fistulas.
- Bleeding from the rectal area.
Criteria for diagnosing Crohn’s disease
Most people with Crohn’s disease go to the doctor for the first time when they have persistent diarrhea, stomach cramps, or sudden weight loss that they can’t explain.
Diagnosis and tests
Your healthcare provider may order one or more of the following tests in an effort to determine the root cause of your symptoms:
A test of the blood looks for elevated levels of white blood cells, which can be an indicator of inflammation or infection if they are present in large numbers. The test also checks for anemia, which is characterized by a low number of red blood cells. Anemia affects approximately one out of every three people who have Crohn’s disease.
The stool test examines a sample of your feces to determine whether or not it contains any bacteria or parasites. It is possible to rule out infections that are the cause of persistent diarrhea.
Your doctor will examine the interior of your colon by using an endoscope, which is a thin tube with a light and camera attached to the end of it. This is done during a colonoscopy. In order to look for indications of inflammation, your physician may take a tissue sample (also known as a biopsy) from the colon.
This type of imaging creates pictures of the digestive tract. Your healthcare provider can get an idea of the severity of the intestinal inflammation from this.
Upper gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy
During this procedure, your physician will insert a long, thin tube called an endoscope into your throat after first inserting it through your mouth. Your doctor will be able to see what’s going on inside because of the attached camera on the device. Your physician might also take tissue samples while performing an upper endoscopy on you.
Upper gastrointestinal (GI) exam
X-ray images taken during an upper GI exam allow your doctor to watch the movement of a barium liquid through your digestive tract after it has been swallowed.
At the Doral Health & Wellness Gastroenterology Center, we treat a wide range of conditions, from indigestion to throat cancer. We also have a knowledgeable support staff that can make suggestions about what to eat and give extra care as needed. Please call us at 347-868-1016.