Crohn’s Disease is a disease belonging to a group of conditions known as Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD).
This condition occurs when inflammation reaches deep into the intestinal wall and can affect any portion of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. While in some patients it is only the colon (large intestine) that is affected, in others it is the small intestine that is involved. For some it involves different portions of the GI tract at once.
As Crohn’s is a chronic condition, patients will likely have periods of disease inactivity. Symptoms can appear suddenly or appear over time. When the disease is active, however, typical symptoms may include:
- Abdominal cramps
- Urgent and frequent need to move the bowels
- Bloody stools
- Fever (possible indication of an infection)
- Decreased appetite and weight loss
- Anal fissures
Additional symptoms may include:
- Skin rashes and ulcers
- Liver inflammation
- Joint inflammation and pain
- Eye infections
- Mouth ulcers
While there is no known cure for Crohn’s, there are measures that can be taken to manage symptoms, including:
- Lifestyle changes (for example, limit or avoid spicy and fried foods, alcohol, caffeine; drink plenty of water)
- Anti-diarrheals to slow down the processing of food and allow the body to absorb nutrients
- Prescription anti-inflammatory medication to ease flare ups
In severe cases of Crohn’s, patients may require surgery. This may be one of several types of procedures:
- Ostomy (creation of a hole in the small or large bowel for the purpose of elimination)
- Strictureplasty (surgery to widen the intestines)
- Bowel resection (procedure to remove damaged areas of the bowel)
Note: This information shouldn’t take the place of a physician’s care. Please see your physician or one of the Digestive Disease Associates physicians (Drs. Carl Calandra or Suman Kaur) with any questions or concerns: (630) 325-4255.