What is Crohn’s Disease?
Crohn’s disease is a chronic illness that affects the digestive tract thus leading to weight loss, abdominal pain, fatigue, malnutrition and severe diarrhea.
It is an inflammatory bowel ailment that can be very painful and life-threatening.
Crohn’s disease is also known as enteritis or ileitis and can affect your gut area from the mouth down to the anus. In most cases, it affects the colon and the small intestine.
According to a report from the centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), between 26 to 199 persons per 100,000 are living with Crohn’s disease. The disease typically affects those between the ages of 15 to 40.
However, it has been reported that it can also affect those outside the age range.
Presently, Crohn’s disease has no known cure but many known therapies can reduce the symptoms and even get rid of the inflammation.
With the right treatment, you can manage the disease and continue to live a normal life.
Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease
The symptoms of Crohn’s disease usually develop gradually and can become worse with time if left untreated. The symptoms can be mild or severe.
Early symptoms of the disease include.
- Blood in your stool
- Sore mouth
- Weight loss
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite
Some of the more sever symptoms include.
- Kidney stones
- Delayed sexual development in kids
- Delayed growth
- Inflammation of the eyes, skin and joints
- Inflammation of the liver
- Inflammation of the bile ducts
- Early detection can help you avoid severe complications of the disease.
Types of Crohn’s disease
There are six types of Crohn’s disease and the difference is determined by the area of your digestive system that is affected and they include the following;
Gastroduodenal Crohn’s disease
This variation affects the duodenum (the first part of your intestine) and your stomach. Though it’s not a common variation of Crohn’s disease.
This variation of Crohn’s disease affects the second part of your intestine known as the jejunum; however, this variation of Crohn’s disease is not common.
This variation affects the ileum or the last part of the small intestine and makes it swell
This variation affects the colon and ileum and is regarded as the most common type of Crohn’s disease that affects man.
This variation only affects the colon and other layers of the intestinal lining
This variation affects the fistulas and causes ulcers or sores around the outer skin of the anus.
When to See a Doctor?
If you’re experiencing changes in your bowel movements or you’re exhibiting any of the signs listed below, then it’s time to see a doctor.
- Blood in stool
- Vomiting and Nausea
- Unexplained Fever
- Unexplained weight loss
- Diarrhea that never goes away
Causes of Crohn’s disease
No one knows what causes Crohn’s disease. However, some of the factors that might influence your chances of catching it include the following.
According to CCFA, 20% of those living with Crohn’s disease also have a sibling, child or parent living with the illness as well. Your genes will play a major role in making you vulnerable to the disease.
However, there are some people whose families have no history of the disease and they have it so don’t rule it out.
Weak immune system
It’s been scientifically proven that a bacteria or virus can trigger Crohn’s disease; nonetheless, scientists are still trying to decode how the trigger works.
Furthermore, once the disease infects a person and their immune system tries to fight it off, there is this unexplained abnormal immune response that makes the immune system start attacking the cells in the digestive tract.
According to a 2012 gut report, some risk factors can influence the way your symptoms will affect you and they include the following;
Regardless of your age, you can get sick from Crohn’s disease and it’s important to point out that you’re more likely to develop Crohn’s disease as a youngster.
Furthermore, most people living with Crohn’s disease get it before their 30th birthday.
Crohn’s disease is capable of affecting any ethnic group. However, data have shown that whites are the most affected especially the people of Eastern European Jewish origin.
Furthermore, Crohn’s disease is presently rising among black people who live in the United Kingdom and North America.
This is a major risk factor for developing Crohn’s disease. Smoking is an activity that leads to not just Crohn’s disease but other life-threatening diseases and you stand a huge risk of undergoing surgery.
These medications like ibuprofen, naproxen, diclofenac sodium any many more do not cause Crohn’s disease; however, they can cause inflammation of the bowel and make your illness worse.
Crohn’s disease can develop into more complicated issues like the following;
Crohn’s disease can evolve into ulcers that can affect any area of your digestive tract, not excluding your anus, mouth and your genital area.
Obstructed bowel movements
Crohn’s disease can obstruct your bowel movement by attacking your intestinal wall and blocking the movement of digestive contents. When this happens, you may need to undergo surgery to take out the dead portion of your bowel.
Once you start experiencing cramping, diarrhea, and abdominal pain, you may find it hard to eat and your intestine may not be able to absorb the necessary nutrients to keep you sustained.
Your malnutrition may also cause you to develop anemia due to a vitamin B-12 deficiency that is a result of the virus.
If you have Crohn’s colitis which is the variation of Crohn’s disease that affects the colon, you’re more likely to have colon cancer.
With Crohn’s disease, your chances of experiencing blood clots in your arteries and veins are very high.
Other health problems
If you’re living with Crohn’s disease, you’re more likely to face other health problems in various parts of your body like osteoporosis, anemia, liver or gallbladder disease and skin disorder.
Presently, there isn’t a specific test for Crohn’s disease so your doctor will conduct a couple of tests to confirm the presence of Crohn’s disease and they include the following;
Your doctor will test your blood to see if anemia is present in your system and also to check for any infection. The presence of anemia indicates that you don’t have enough red blood cells to transport oxygen from the blood vessels to your tissues.
Your doctor will request a stool sample which you will provide and they will test it for hidden organisms like parasites.
Presently, Crohn’s disease has no cure, it can only be managed by taking care of the inflammation and the treatments vary per person. So, you’ll need to contact your doctor to prescribe medication or therapy that is custom-tailored for you.