Crohn’s Disease – What is it?

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Crohn’s disease can be put in the category of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). At present medical research is still going on to ascertain the causes of the onset of the disease and find a cure. Despite major treatment advances in the last three decades, no cure is available yet.

Crohn’s Symptoms

The symptoms often develop gradually and get worse over a period of time. Very often symptoms are mistaken for food poisoning or simply an upset stomach due to infection or allergy. Early symptoms include the following:-

  • Diarrhea which is not responding to commonly used medication
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Blood in the stool
  • Medium grade fever
  • Weight loss and loss of appetite
  • Frequent need to empty bowel

As the disease progresses the symptoms become more severe and more troublesome. However, if we detect the disease early, we can avoid severe complications.  More severe symptoms may include:

  • Pain and drainage from the mouth of the anus
  • Ulcers appearing anywhere between mouth and anus.
  • Difficulty in breathing leading to hyperventilation.
  • Inflammation of joints and skin anywhere on the body.

Causes of Crohn’s Disease

As mentioned above, medical science is still researching the causes. However, the following factors influence the chances of developing the disease:

  • Hereditary or die to genes.
  • Weak immune system or overactive immune system.
  • Environment conditions and diet
  • Age (Mostly the onset is after 30+ years)
  • Smoking

People with Crohn’s disease develop a secondary intestinal infection from bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi. This accelerates the severity and creates complications. Yeast infections are also common in Crohn’s and can affect both the lungs and intestinal tract. Such infections are required to be treated by antifungal medications to prevent complications.

Crohn’s Diagnosis

There is no single test that can help diagnose the disease. However, we may have to run through several tests to make a diagnosis. Few tests are:

  • Blood tests to ascertain onset of anemia and check for inflammation.
  • Stool test to detect blood, bacteria, fungal presence etc.
  • An endoscopy may be required to have better image of GI tract.
  • Colonoscopy to examine large bowel.
  • CT Scans and MRI scans help doctors to see specific areas of your tissues and organs.
  • A biopsy may also be required, taken during endoscopy or colonoscopy for closer analysis.

Treatment for Crohn’s Disease

As mentioned earlier, there is no treatment for the disease. We can only try to manage the disease and reduce the severity and frequency of symptoms. Hence medication will vary keeping in view history, severity, response to certain medication, age, and dietary habits. Generally, anti-inflammatory drugs are prescribed as the first course of treatment along with antibiotics. Generally, an overactive immune system causes inflammation. Surgery is rare and is generally resorted to in very severe cases. Surgery may involve removing the damaged portions of the digestive tract or treating deep infections.

Diet Regulations

We have to understand that healthy food doesn’t cause the disease. One needs to avoid unhealthy and processed food. Naturopathy is the best route to manage the disease. One needs to keep a track of the food intake and see if any particular food is triggering the symptoms. The symptoms can get triggered even by high fiber, fruits, or any other healthy food. One should avoid such healthy food that triggers the symptoms. So observation and tracking are most important. Reduce fat intake as it is difficult to digest and supports particular types of infections. Limited dairy intake is also recommended. An increase in fluids especially water is welcomed. Keeping well hydrated is essential to maintain energy levels to fight the disease. If certain important food is triggering the symptoms, then it is essential to look for alternate vitamin and mineral sources. Certain other treatments are:

Crohn’s Disease Impact on Life

The disease can disrupt work and personal life. It can also cause financial stresses as it involves long-term continuous treatment and doctor’s visits. The disease can induce disability to the extent that working becomes impossible. Although the disease is rare in young people but cannot be ruled out. In young, it can impact bone density and growth delays. It also causes emotional and biological stresses.

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