Crohn’s disease is a form of inflammatory bowel disease that can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract. Inflammation, ulcers and narrowing of the digestive tract may occur due to the body’s inappropriate attack on the digestive tract. Crohn’s is often seen in young people, but can also be seen later in life.
Symptoms may be present for many years prior to diagnosis. Symptom severity is dependent upon the location of the disease within the gastrointestinal tract. Typical symptoms include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Eye pain, skin rash, mouth ulcers and arthritis may also occur. Patients with Crohn’s are at increased risk for developing gall and kidney stones.
Crohn’s disease is most commonly detected through a colonoscopy procedure or x-ray imaging studies of the upper gastrointestinal series. CT scans or MRI scans may also be necessary. Blood tests may detect evidence of inflammation, anemia and malnutrition — conditions commonly associated with Crohn’s disease.
While there is no cure for Crohn’s, medications can be used to relieve symptoms. Medicinal treatment is dependent upon disease location and severity. Dietary modification may be helpful in minimizing symptoms. Patients with a narrowing digestive tract or active inflammation will benefit from a low fiber diet. Medications such as Mesalamine, corticosteroids, immunomodulatory and biological therapy can be used to achieve remission. Patients who fail to respond to medicinal treatment may be required to undergo surgery. However, surgery is not curative and the disease will frequently recur over time.
Are you concerned about your risk for Crohn’s? Please contact Regional Gi to schedule a consult with our board-certified GI specialists.