Crohn’s Disease is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes swelling and sores deep in the layers of tissue along your digestive tract (from your mouth to your anus). It is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease that affects the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
Studies have shown that Crohn’s can affect both the lungs and the intestinal tract. The symptoms of such disease develop gradually. Some might experience:
- High temperature or fever
- Fatigue (Tiredness)
- Loss of Appetite
- Sudden weight loss
- Feeling as if your bowels aren’t free
- Frequent urgency to eliminate
Note: It’s sometimes possible to mistake these symptoms for the symptoms of another condition, like an upset stomach or any allergy.
It is essential to seek prompt medical attention if anyone experiences troublesome symptoms to help you avoid severe complications.
According to Dr. William Faubion, “Crohn’s Disease can be both painful and debilitating, and sometimes may lead to life-threatening complications. While there’s no known cure for Crohn’s Disease, therapies can greatly reduce its signs and symptoms and even bring about long-term remission and healing of inflammation. With treatment, many people with Crohn’s Disease are able to function well”.
If Crohn’s Disease is left untreated this chronic illness can lead to the following complications:
- Bowel obstruction. Crohn’s disease can affect the entire thickness of the intestinal wall. Over time, parts of the bowel can scar and narrow, which may block the flow of digestive contents. You may require surgery to remove the diseased portion of your bowel.
- Ulcers. Chronic inflammation can lead to open sores (ulcers) anywhere in your digestive tract, including your mouth and anus, and in the genital area (perineum).
- Fistulas. Sometimes ulcers can extend completely through the intestinal wall, creating a fistula — an abnormal connection between different body parts. Fistulas can develop between your intestine and your skin, or between your intestine and another organ. Fistulas near or around the anal area (perianal) are the most common kind.When fistulas develop in the abdomen, food may bypass areas of the bowel that are necessary for absorption. Fistulas may form between loops of bowel, in the bladder or vagina, or through the skin, causing continuous drainage of bowel contents to your skin.
In some cases, a fistula may become infected and form an abscess, which can be life-threatening if not treated.
- Anal fissure. This is a small tear in the tissue that lines the anus or in the skin around the anus where infections can occur. It’s often associated with painful bowel movements and may lead to a perianal fistula.
- Malnutrition. Diarrhea, abdominal pain and cramping may make it difficult for you to eat or for your intestine to absorb enough nutrients to keep you nourished. It’s also common to develop anemia due to low iron or vitamin B-12 caused by the disease.
- Colon cancer. Having Crohn’s disease that affects your colon increases your risk of colon cancer. General colon cancer screening guidelines for people without Crohn’s disease call for a colonoscopy every 10 years beginning at age 50. Ask your doctor whether you need to have this test done sooner and more frequently.
How is Crohn’s Disease Diagnosed?
Many doctors believe the method of colonoscopy to be the most efficient. This method is relatively easier to discover inflammation in large bowels and parts of small bowels. Usually healthcare providers will order the following Lab tests:
CBC-Complete Blood Count (CBC)
ESR-Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate
Using a blood test method can detect anemia and lack of red blood cells at earlier stages. Remember to consume an adequate amount of water, keep yourself hydrated, and limit your dairy intake and troublesome (unhealthy) food.
You must incorporate healthy eating patterns in your lifestyle. Some doctors may suggest increasing alternative sources of vitamins and minerals.
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Source: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2020, October 13). Crohn’s disease. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved June 20, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/crohns-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20353304