Crohn's disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that affects as many as 780,000 Americans, according to the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America. Medical professionals continuously perform research and studies on the disease. And although there is currently no cure for Crohn's disease, treatment can help ease your symptoms and help you enjoy a full and active life.
Crohn's disease most commonly occurs in the small intestine and the colon. It can also occur in any part of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, starting with the mouth and ending with the anus.
There are different stages of severity of Crohn's disease, with symptoms ranging from mild to debilitating. In some severe cases, the disease can cause life-threatening flares and other complications.
It is unclear what causes Crohn's disease, but factors like your immune system, your genes, and your environment may influence your chances of developing it.
Crohn's Disease Symptom
The symptoms of Crohn's disease usually develop gradually and can worsen over time. Early symptoms of Crohn's disease include:
- abdominal cramps
- blood in your stool
- loss of appetite
- weight loss
- feeling as if your bowels aren't empty after a bowel movement
- feeling a frequent need for bowel movements
The following factors may affect the severity of your symptoms:
- whether you smoke
- your age
- whether or not the rectum is involved
- length of time you've had the disease
Diagnosis and Treatment
Your doctor will most likely perform several different tests to rule out other conditions to diagnose Crohn's disease. Some of these tests can include:
- Blood tests
- A stool test to help detect blood in your GI tract
- Endoscopy to get a better image of the inside of your upper GI tract
- Imaging tests like CT scans and MRI
- A tissue sample or biopsy of your intestinal tract tissue
Treatment of Crohn's disease focuses on managing the severity and frequency of the symptoms. The exact type of treatment for Crohn's disease will depend on your symptoms and their severity, and your disease history. Your doctor may choose one or several of the following treatments:
- Anti-inflammatory drugs
- Biologic therapies
Food does not cause Crohn's disease, but it could at times trigger flares. After you meet with your doctor, they will likely refer you to a registered dietitian who can help you develop a Crohn's disease-safe diet that most benefits your specific case.
In general, individuals with Crohn's disease should try to limit their fat intake and dairy intake and make sure to drink plenty of water.
When to See a Doctor
It is sometimes possible to mistake Crohn's disease symptoms for other conditions like food poisoning, upset stomach, or allergy. If any of these symptoms persist, it is best to see a doctor. Early detection of Crohn's disease can allow you to seek treatment early and avoid potential complications.
UAB Medical West Can Help You Monitor Your Gastrointestinal Health
Catching Crohn's disease early on can help you or your loved ones begin treatment promptly. Whether you already have a Crohn's disease diagnosis or would like to learn more about taking care of your gastrointestinal health, UAB Medical West is here to take care of your needs. Schedule an appointment with us today - in Hueytown, Hoover, Bessemer, McCalla, and Vance.