What is Crohn’s Disease?
Crohn’s disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which causes swelling (inflammation) in one or multiple parts of the digestive tract, mostly in the small intestine. The inflammation in the digestive tract can further lead to fatigue, abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, malnutrition, and weight loss.
If not treated properly, the inflammation can be spread into the deeper layers of the digestive system. Dealing with Crohn’s disease can be both debilitating and painful, and can also lead to various life-threatening complications.
What are the Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease?
Crohn’s disease mainly affects the small or large intestine. It can also involve various segments that can be continuous. At the same time, in some people, it only impacts the colon, a part of the large intestine.
As for Crohn’s disease symptoms, they can be both mild and severe. The symptoms are developed gradually, However, sometimes they may also come suddenly, with no warning. There may also be times when a person won’t even have any sign of symptoms, which is known as remission.
When Crohn’s disease is active, an individual can experience the following symptoms:
- Abdominal pain or cramps
- Bloody stools
- Weight loss
- Reduced appetite
- Pain around or near the anus because of inflammation from the fistula, a tunnel into the skin
Other Symptoms and Signs
People dealing with severe Crohn’s disease can experience various symptoms outside of the digestive tract as well, including:
- Inflammation of joints, skin, and eyes
- Inflammation of bile ducts or the liver
- Iron deficiency (anemia)
- Kidney stones
- Delayed growth or malnutrition
When Should One See a Doctor?
You should get Crohn’s disease treatment when you experience continuous changes in your bowel habits or have any of the symptoms and signs of Crohn’s disease, including:
- Abdominal pain
- Blood in stool
- Vomiting or nausea
- Unexplained weight loss
- Diarrhea lasting for two weeks or more
How to Manage or Treat Crohn’s Disease?
How Crohn’s disease should be managed or treated depends on the cause of your symptoms and how severe the symptoms are. If your condition is not severe, you can get treated by following a Crohn’s disease diet. However, if you think your condition is worrisome, your healthcare provider may suggest you get one or more of the following treatments:
- Antibiotics: Antibiotics are used to treat or prevent infections. Severe infections caused by Crohn’s disease can result in abscesses (pockets of pus) or fistulas (tunnels or openings that connect two organs that are not connected normally). Antibiotics can significantly help prevent such severe complications regarding Crohn’s disease.
- Biologics: Biologics are medicines with monoclonal antibodies. These antibodies help in suppressing the immune system.
- Antidiarrheal medication: Prescription medications including loperamide can be helpful in stopping severe diarrhea.
- Bowel rest: To allow your intestine to heal, your healthcare provider may suggest going without food for several days. To get the required nutrition, you may get intravenous (parenteral) nutrition. During this time, you’ll be allowed to drink only a prescribed liquid or take help from a feeding tube.
Immunomodulators: Immunomodulators are drugs that help calm inflammation by controlling an overactive immune system. They can include cyclosporine and azathioprine.