We’re sure you must have heard of this at some point but unless you suffer from the condition, you may not know a great deal about this generally. And yet most of us at one time or another have suffered discomfort very similar to having the disease first diagnosed by Dr Crohn in the 1930’s. This article will give you an insight into the disease though it can become quite complex in certain cases. So we begin with a simple question?
What is Crohn’s Disease?
This is a condition causing any part of the wall of the gut to inflame. The most common area is the last part of the small intestine or the ileum. The ileum is affected in about half of cases. The problem can also affect other parts of the small intestine and the colon. The mouth, oesophagus and stomach are affected much less commonly.
Only one in roughly 10,000 people will suffer from this continually and they tend to develop this between the ages of 15 and 30, women more so. Those who have had their appendix removed may develop Chrohn’s disease symptoms within the following five years. In around 2 in 10 cases the inflammation will occur in the colon.
So What are the Causes?
In truth the cause isn’t known though genetics may have something to do with this. Some experts believe bacteria could trigger the immune system to cause inflammation in those who are genetically prone to the disease. Smokers tend to be prone to this and both the oral contraceptive pill and joint inflammation tablets are been linked as possible factors.
Tell Us About the Symptoms?
Well there are a number of symptoms from diarrhoea to wanting to go to the toilet but finding you can’t pass anything. In 7 to 10 cases individual’s will get a pain in the gut. You may develop sudden weight loss or generally feel unwell for a time. Mouth ulcers are not uncommon along with anaemia and painful breaks in the skin of the anus.
These symptoms can vary – you may get one or two or a lot more, though sometimes a flare up will affect you greatly. And if larger areas of the gut are affected, you may not absorb food well, becoming deficient in vitamins and other nutrients. In a few cases other parts of the body may be affected from the joints to the liver, an eye to the skin as the immune system is affected.
CHROHN’S DISEASE IS ONGOING SO IT WILL FLARE UP FULLY NOW AND AGAIN OR YOU’LL FEEL THE ODD SYMPTOM!
SOME PEOPLE WILL ONLY HAVE ONE OR TWO FLARE UPS IN THEIR LIVES AND OTHERS ONE OR TWO EACH YEAR!
In the most severe cases the gut will become very narrow causing blockages leading to pain and vomiting. A small perforation could develop causing infection in the abdomen, or a channel could form between two parts of the body due to infection. People may even develop cancer or osteoporosis. Surgery could well be the result!
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So How is This Diagnosed?
Well of course if you feel any of these symptoms or it becomes really uncomfortable then you should consult your doctor. Medics will use tiny telescopes passed into the body to look for a diagnosis. Special X rays are available combined with barium meals which coat the gut so it shows up white on the X ray film itself. CT or MRI scans can also be used. They may administer a blood test as well, or you be may be required to provide a stool sample.
What about Treatment?
Well this will depend on a number of factors and you’ll need a specialist to help as it can become a little complicated in various cases. Those with mild symptoms may not need any treatment at all. Others may be put on steroid type medicines for a few weeks, or be given drugs to suppress the immune system.
Drugs used to counter the way in which inflammation develops or antibiotics provide other forms of treatment. But a strict liquid diet can be introduced in some cases to help rest the gut itself. Iron tablets, vitamins, painkillers, drips and vaccinations can be added to the list.
Some Useful Facts
- It’s a fact 15 to 20 people with the disease can keep working more than 10 years after being diagnosed.
- 8 out of 10 people with the disease may require surgery at some stage for complications.
- Half of those diagnosed with Chrohn’s disease will need surgery in the first 10 years
- Some people will need several operations over their lifetime
Ok so we now know Chrohn’s disease affects the gut/digestive system and in some cases this can be quite complicated. There are a range of treatments available and many people with a severe form of the disease may need more than one operation. It’s a relapse disease meaning it happens in flare up’s sometimes a long time apart.
Getting early diagnosis is very important of course and it can be very manageable depending upon the severity of the problem. Check out the vast reading on the internet for more information!