Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It causes inflammation of the lining of your digestive tract, which can lead to abdominal pain, severe diarrhea and even malnutrition. Inflammation caused by Crohn’s disease can involve different areas of the digestive tract in different people. The inflammation caused by Crohn’s disease often spreads deep into the layers of affected bowel tissue. Like ulcerative colitis, another common IBD, Crohn’s disease can be both painful and debilitating, and sometimes may lead to life-threatening complications. Although it may involve any part of the digestive tract from the mouth to the anus, it most commonly affects the last part of the small intestine (ileum) and/or the large intestine (colon and rectum).
Any age group may be affected, but the majority of patients are young adults between 16 and 40 years old. Crohn’s disease occurs most commonly in people living in northern climates. It 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, most often a brother or sister, and sometimes a parent or child, with some form of inflammatory bowel disease. Patients with Crohn’s disease can feel pain; the condition makes the intestines empty frequently, resulting in diarrhea. Crohn’s disease is not contagious, but it does have a slight genetic (inherited) tendency. An x-ray study of the small intestine may be used to diagnose Crohn’s disease. The exact cause of this disease is unknown.
Crohn’s disease symptoms will often vary depending on which part of the gut is affected. When the wall of the affected part of the gut is inflamed, the patient may experience the following symptoms: Pain – the level of pain varies according to the patient, and where the inflammation is in the gut. Most commonly, pain will be felt at the lower-right side of the abdomen; because the majority of inflammations are locate in the ileum (lower end of the small intestine).Ulcers in the gut – ulcers are raw areas in the gut that may bleed. If they do bleed the patient may notice blood in his/her stools .Mouth ulcers – mouth ulcers are commonly experienced by people with Crohn’s disease. Diarrhea – can be mild to very severe. Sometimes there may be mucus, blood. The patient may want to go and find there is nothing to pass.
Fatigue – patients with Crohn’s disease may sometimes feel extremely tired. Fever is also possible during fatigue. Altered appetite – generally, people with Crohn’s disease have periods when their appetite is very low. Weight loss – this is common, especially when the patient experiences loss of appetite. Anemia – if the patient is losing blood there is a risk of anemia. Rectal bleeding and anal fissures – when the skin of the anus becomes cracked there will be anal fissures. These may become painful and can bleed.
There is no “cure” for Crohn’s disease, but medical therapy with one or more drugs provides a means to treat early Crohn’s disease and relieve its symptoms. The most common drugs prescribed are corticosteroids, such as prednisone and methylprednisolone, and various anti-inflammatory agents. The main treatment for Crohn’s disease is medicine to stop the inflammation in the intestine and medicine to prevent flare-ups and keep the individual in remission. Treatment may include medications, surgery, nutrition supplementation, or a combination of these options; these are some of the medications used in the treatment: Anti-inflammation medications, Cortisone or steroids, Immune system suppressors, Biological therapies, Antibiotics, Anti-diarrheal medications and fluid replacements. Children with Crohn’s disease may need high-calorie liquid formulas, especially if their growth is being affected. The majority of Crohn’s disease patients will need surgery at some time. When medications no longer control symptoms the only solution sometimes is to operate.
Surgery can relieve symptoms that did not respond to medication, or to correct complications, such as abscess, perforation, bleeding, and blockage. Removing part of the intestine can help, but it does not cure Crohn’s disease. Inflammation often returns to the area next to where the affected part of the gut was removed. Some Crohn’s disease patients may require more than one operation during their lives. Hypnotherapy is a healing approach that creates a state of deep relaxation and heightened concentration. A report published in 2000 indicates that hypnotherapy shows promise as a means of improving immune function and relieving symptoms in people with Crohn’s disease In a 2004 study, patients with mild to moderately active Crohn’s disease had a decrease in disease activity after receiving 10 sessions of acupuncture (a needle-based therapy long used to treat inflammatory bowel disease in traditional Chinese medicine). In addition to taking medications and making dietary changes, certain lifestyle changes may help those with Crohn’s disease.
Living with the condition often means making changes such as quitting the use of tobacco products and reducing stress. People with Crohn’s disease may also benefit from receiving counseling or support. your diet to control your symptoms. You might need to: Limit dairy products, try low-fat foods Experiment with how much protein and fiber you eat avoid problem “gassy” foods and eat smaller and more frequent meals. Many people with Crohn’s are lactose intolerant. Luckily, there’s a great dairy alternative: almond milk, which is made from ground-up almonds and can be fortified to contain as much calcium as regular milk. Exercise helps people with Crohn’s disease, both in terms of maintaining health and reducing stress. Exercise is considered safe for people with Crohn’s disease, but anyone with a chronic illness should talk to their doctor before starting a new exercise or fitness regimen. It is especially important for people with Crohn’s disease to drink water before and during exercise to prevent dehydration. Avoid extreme changes in body temperature during exercise.
Wong, C. (2012, September 19). Natural Remedies for Crohn’s Disease. Alternative Medicine – Everything You Need to Know About Alternative Medicine. Retrieved January 14, 2013, from http://altmedicine.about.com/od/crohnsdisease/a/crohns_alttherapies.htm N.P. (2009, May 28). “What Is Crohn’s Disease? What Causes Crohn’s Disease?.” Medical News Today. Retrieved from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/151620.php. Ehrlich, S. (2012, December 31). Crohn’s disease. University of Maryland Medical Center | Home. Retrieved January 15, 13, from http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/crohns-disease-000043.htm