As many as half a million Americans have Crohn’s or Crohn’s Disease. It may occur in anyone at any time; however, most cases are diagnosed between the ages of 15 to 35. Crohn’s Disease is an IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) which damages the digestive tract and may cause severe symptoms.
What Is Crohn’s Disease?
The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America describes Crohn’s Disease as “a chronic (ongoing) disorder that causes inflammation of the digestive or gastrointestinal (GI) tract”. This occurs because of an abnormal response of the body’s immune system. The immune system mistakes microbes, which are normally found in the intestines, for foreign substances and attacks them. This causes the body to produce white blood cells and other harmful chemicals which ultimately leads to chronic inflammation and bowel injury. Crohn’s can affect any part of the GI tract and may affect all layers of the intestines.
What Are the Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease?
Patients suffering from Crohn’s Disease may have a range of symptoms from mild to severe. At times of remission, the patient may have no symptoms at all. Some of the most common symptoms are:
- Abdominal Pain/ Cramping
- Blood in stools
- Reduced Appetite/ Weight Loss
- Skin Disorders
- Inflammation of Liver/ Bile Ducts
How Is Crohn’s Disease Diagnosed?
Because the symptoms of Crohn’s Disease are similar to those of many other medical conditions, your colon doctor will want to perform tests or procedures to make the correct diagnosis. The following procedures or tests may be performed:
What Is the Treatment for Crohn’s Disease?
Your Dallas Gastroenterologist may start with medications to control the inflammation which causes the symptoms associated with Crohn’s Disease. There are various drug therapies Dr. Kenneth Brown may use, including:
- Immune System Suppressors
- Biologic Medications
- Pain Relievers
- Iron/Calcium/Vitamin Supplements
At times when drug therapy no longer controls symptoms, Dr. Brown may recommend a surgical evaluation. Surgery is done to remove damaged parts of the digestive tract or to repair fissures, fistulas, and intestinal abscesses.
Crohn’s disease is a lifelong immune system disorder which can be controlled through the use of medications and surgical techniques. Although the average patient will go through periods of flares and remission, most patients can live a productive life. Lifestyle changes in diet as well as a close relationship with your GI doctor can help to create a regimen in which you can closely control your symptoms.