If you suffer from Crohn’s disease, you understand the struggle of abdominal pain, fatigue, and diarrhea. Crohn’s disease is not one that should be treated lightly. It is a serious condition that may have serious complications. Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory disease of the intestines. It affects different parts of the intestine. Inflammation may occur on the surface of the bowel, but it may also spread into the other layers of the bowel. Crohn’s is a lifelong disease that can only be managed with treatment. Staying up on your treatment will help manage your symptoms.
Crohn’s disease is something that affects many people. Nearly 700,000 Americans suffer from Crohn’s disease (Healthline). Unlike most diseases, Crohn’s does not occur because of old age. It is diagnosed primarily in young adults; those ages 15-30 suffer the most.There are both hereditary and environmental factors that may trigger Crohn’s disease. The basic cause of Crohn’s disease is a defect in the immune system. The purpose of the immune system is to attack any foreign substances that enter the body. In Crohn’s disease, the immune system attacks the good bacteria in the intestine. The intestine has bacteria that keep it healthy. Once the immune system responds to the bacteria in the intestine, it causes an inflammatory response. This inflammation leads to other symptoms.
Symptoms of Crohn’s disease are extensive. The worst of the symptoms may leave you debilitated. Symptoms do not typically happen all the time. Crohn’s disease may flare up and go back into remission. When it flares, you typically suffer from diarrhea and a lot of cramping and abdominal pain. The inflammation may cause your stomach to look swollen or bloated. The irritation in the bowels may lead to bleeding which can be seen in the stool. Eating may become more of a chore. The inflammation and pain may cause you not to want food at all. Issues with digestion may make it painful to eat and cause diarrhea. Lack of food leads to weight loss and malnutrition. When the body has trouble absorbing the nutrients you put in it, you lose nutrients which make your body suffer. When the inflammation is not controlled, it may spread to other areas of the body.
Many different factors affect Crohn’s disease. When Crohn’s disease is not hereditary, environmental factors play a major role. Sometimes Crohn’s disease is spurred on by bacteria and viruses that get into the intestinal system. Living in certain areas also puts you at a higher risk of Crohn’s disease. Living in urban areas and northern climates show a higher risk of Crohn’s disease. Overuse of certain anti-inflammatory drugs can cause Crohn’s disease. These drugs may get rid of inflammation in certain areas but then leads to inflammation in the intestine. Smoking may also cause Crohn’s disease. Stress only makes the symptoms worse. A poor diet can also cause a lot of problems.
You cannot manage Crohn’s disease alone. You must get diagnosis and treatment as soon as you notice the above symptoms. Blood tests are done first. The blood tests help rule out other diagnosis and confirm Crohn’s disease. A colonoscopy also helps. The doctor can see the inflammatory cells in the intestines. They can also see if damaged has occurred. Endoscopy is another method of diagnosis. You swallow a tiny camera that records its journey through the digestive system. The doctor can look at that video and see what part of the intestine Crohn’s disease is affecting. MRI’s, X-rays, and CT scans may also be helpful.
For treatment, the doctor can take two different approaches. The first approach is to give you strong drugs in the hope that it causes Crohn’s disease to go into remission. The other approach is to start with mild drugs that gradually suppress the symptoms. Strong drugs are used to suppress the immune system. Strong antibiotics are also helpful in treating the disease. Milder medications include anti-inflammatory drugs, but not the ones you typically use for inflammation. There are some that specifically help. Corticosteroids are also useful. Sometimes changing your diet is the best form of treatment. In more severe cases, surgery is necessary. A surgeon removes the damaged part of the intestine and connects the healthy parts.
Crohn’s disease is a serious condition that should not be ignored. If you are suffering from Crohn’s disease, know you are not alone in your fight. Many people are going through the same situation. You cannot give up hope. The pain may sometimes seem overwhelming and unbearable, but as science improves, treatment also improves. A cure has not been found yet, but the research will continue until one is found.
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