crohn’s disease

overview

We’ve all suffered with a bout of diarrhea. But it may not just be “something you ate.” Crohn's disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes lifelong inflammation in the lining of the digestive tract (and sometimes bowel tissue), and can cause severe diarrhea and stomach pain. This autoimmune disease can affect any part inside the digestive system. Causing swelling and sores to develop. Often it affects the last part of the small intestine and the first part of the large intestine.

symptoms

Crohn’s disease symptoms may include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain and cramps that can be mild or severe and accompanied by vomiting
  • Ulcers that develop in the small intestine and sometimes poke through the walls of the intestine. These sores can also develop in the mouth.
  • Blood in the stool
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
If you have diarrhea that isn’t going away, or is accompanied by stomach pain or blood in the stool, call your doctor right away.

diagnosis

Your doctor will perform a physical exam, ask about your symptoms and may order tests such as: 

  • Blood tests
  • Fecal occult blood test to find out if you have blood in your stool
  • Sigmoidoscopy to examine the lower colon and rectum. A flexible tube is inserted in the anus to see inside the digestive system.
  • Colonoscopy: A flexible tube is inserted in the anus to see inside the colon.
  • Scans of the small intestine, such as an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) or CT (computed tomography) scan
  • Barium enema X-ray. An enema coats the lining of the bowls with a dye (barium), which helps show the rectum, colon and part of the intestine on X-rays.
  • Double balloon endoscopy: An endoscope (long tube) is inserted down the throat to see from the esophagus to the colon.

services & treatment

Crohn's disease treatments include medication and, in some cases, surgery. Your doctor will talk with you about the most appropriate treatment for you.

Medications may include anti-inflammatory drugs; immune-system-suppressor drugs; antibiotics; anti-diarrheal drugs; pain-relieving drugs; iron, calcium and vitamin supplements; laxatives; and nutritional treatments, either by injection or feeding tube, to treat malnutrition and let the bowels rest.

Depending on how severe your symptoms are and your response to treatment, your doctor may advise surgery to help manage the Crohn’s disease. Surgery may include removing part of the digestive tract and reconnecting the remaining portions, widening portions of the intestine that have become narrowed, and/or fixing fistulas and abscesses.

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