Crohn’s disease causes swelling and irritation of the digestive tract. Crohn’s disease can cause symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss, and rectal bleeding. This is a chronic disease that cannot be cured. However, Crohn’s disease treatment options typically control your symptoms and allow you to live an active life.
As much as half a million Americans are affected by Crohn’s disease. This includes men, women, and children. This blog will cover a variety of topics, including Crohn’s disease flare-up symptoms, risk factors, and its management.
What is Crohn’s Disease?
Crohn’s disease also known as regional enteritis or ileitis is a chronic form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The digestive tract, particularly the small and large intestines, becomes inflamed and irritated as a result of the condition. Diarrhea and stomach cramps can be brought on by Crohn’s disease. Periodic Crohn’s disease flare-ups of the disease are very common.
Although there is no cure for Crohn’s disease, therapies can significantly reduce the impact of its symptoms and even result in long-term remission and inflammation healing. With treatment, many Crohn’s disease sufferers can lead productive lives.
What are the Symptoms of Crohn’s disease?
Depending on which area of the gut is affected by the condition, Crohn’s disease symptoms can differ. They typically include:
- Pain: The intensity of the pain varies from person to person and is based on the location of the intestinal inflammation. People frequently complain of lower right abdominal pain.
- Gut ulcers: These are raw, potentially bleeding areas. A person might discover blood in their stools if this occurs.
- Mouth Ulcers: They are a typical symptom.
- Diarrhea: There may be mucus, blood, or pus in addition to mild to severe diarrhea. Additionally, a person may experience the urge to urinate but find that it’s a false alarm.
- Fatigue: Crohn’s patients frequently experience extreme fatigue and may experience a fever.
- Altered appetite & weight loss: A person’s appetite may occasionally decline, which might ultimately cause weight loss.
- Anemia: Blood loss can result in anemia.
- Anal fissures and rectal bleeding: When the skin of the anus cracks, it causes pain and bleeding.
What are the Causes of Crohn’s Disease Flare-ups?
There is still no known cause for Crohn’s disease. Diet and stress were once thought to be contributing factors to Crohn’s disease, but today’s medical community is aware that these factors only serve to exacerbate the condition. Its development is likely influenced by a number of factors:
- Immune system: Crohn’s disease might be brought on by a virus or bacterium, but this hasn’t yet been determined by researchers. When your immune system battles an invasive microorganism or environmental triggers, it may attack digestive tract cells as part of an atypical immune response.
- Heredity: Given that Crohn’s disease is more prevalent in families, genes may contribute to an individual’s increased risk of developing the condition. The vast majority of Crohn’s disease patients, however, do not have a family history of the disease.
What are the Risk Factors of Crohn’s Disease?
The risk factors for Crohn’s disease include:
- Age: Although Crohn’s disease can strike at any age, it’s more likely to strike in youth. Most people with Crohn’s disease are identified before they reach the age of 30.
- Ethnicity: Caucasians, particularly those of Eastern European (Ashkenazi) Jewish descent, have the highest risk of developing Crohn’s disease despite the fact that it can affect any ethnic group. However, African Americans who live in North America and the United Kingdom are more likely to develop Crohn’s disease. Additionally, the prevalence of Crohn’s disease is rising among Middle Easterners and immigrants to the US.
- Family background: If you have a first-degree relative who has the disease, such as a parent, sibling, or child, your risk increases. As many as 1 in 5 Crohn’s patients have a family member who also has the condition.
- Cigarette smoking: The most significant preventable risk factor for Crohn’s disease flare-ups is cigarette smoking. Smoking increases the severity of the disease as well as the likelihood of requiring surgery. It’s crucial to stop smoking if you do.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): These include diclofenac sodium, naproxen sodium (Aleve), and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, among others). They may cause bowel inflammation, which aggravates Crohn’s disease even though they do not directly cause it.
How to Diagnose Crohn’s Disease?
Once all other potential causes of your symptoms and signs have been ruled out, your doctor will likely only diagnose Crohn’s disease. Crohn’s disease cannot be diagnosed using a single test. To assist in making the Crohn’s disease diagnosis, your doctor will probably perform a number of tests, such as:
- Blood test: Blood tests may be recommended by your doctor to check for infection or anemia, a condition where there aren’t enough red blood cells to carry enough oxygen to your tissues.
In order to check for levels of inflammation, liver function, or the presence of dormant infections like tuberculosis, your doctor may also order additional tests. It’s also possible to test your blood for the presence of infection-fighting antibodies.
- Stool test: You might be asked to give a sample of your stool so that your doctor can check it for organisms like infection-causing bacteria or, in rare cases, parasites or hidden (occult) blood.
- Colonoscopy: Using a small, flexible, lighted tube with a camera at the end, this test enables your doctor to see your entire colon as well as the very end of your ileum (terminal ileum). Your doctor may also perform a biopsy during the procedure to obtain small samples of tissue for laboratory examination and possible diagnosis. Granulomas, or collections of inflammatory cells, may point to a Crohn’s diagnosis.
- Computer-aided Imaging (CT): A CT scan, a specialized X-ray method that offers more detail than a regular X-ray, might be performed on you. In addition to tissues outside the bowel, this test examines the entire bowel. A special type of CT scan called a CT enterogram involves ingesting an oral contrast agent and receiving intravenous contrast images of the intestines. In many medical facilities, this test has taken the place of barium X-rays because it produces better images of the small bowel.
- Imaging using Magnetic Resonance (MRI): To produce finely detailed images of organs and tissues, MRI scanners use a magnetic field and radio waves. MRI is especially helpful for assessing fistulas around the anal area or the small intestine (pelvic MRI). This is also known as MR enterography.
MR enterography can occasionally be used to monitor the status or progression of a disease. The risk of radiation exposure may be reduced by using this test instead of CT enterography, especially in younger patients.
How to Manage Crohn’s Disease Flare-ups?
The aim is to reduce or control the symptoms to offer relief, even though a definitive cure for Crohn’s disease has not yet been found. It might also prolong life for those with Crohn’s disease. Some of the available therapies include:
- Steroids: By lessening digestive tract inflammation, they aid in symptom relief. The recommended dosage for these medications is one dose per day for a few months, or until the symptoms go away. However, because the side effects can be severe, they are only be used under strict medical supervision.
- Liquid diet: Children and adults can benefit from a liquid diet or enteral diet by reducing their symptoms. For a certain amount of time, a liquid diet replaces the typical diet with a drink that contains all the necessary nutrients.
- Immunosuppressants: These are prescribed to help your immune system function less actively. Medication that helps with it may occasionally be injected into you. When steroids don’t work, these work best. However, it’s crucial to remember that immunosuppressants have harmful side effects.
- Biomedical treatments: These can be very beneficial. Stronger medications are used to meet the requirement when conventional medicines fail to deliver the desired results. These drugs are referred to as biomedical drugs. Every 2 to 8 weeks, these are administered as drips or injections. There are also some negative effects.
- Surgery: This is a last-ditch effort. Surgery is the treatment of choice for doctors when medications stop working or the advantages outweigh the risks. Resection is the common name for the operation.
Crohn’s disease is a crippling condition that puts the person suffering from it, under a tremendous physical and mental strain. Keep track of your symptoms and the frequency of flare-ups so that your doctor can determine the best course of treatment for you. A significant part of reducing the impact of Crohn’s disease’s flare-ups and long-term fatal effects is changing one’s lifestyle.
You can get in touch with Clinical Research Organizations that are running Crohn’s disease Clinical Trials to find out more about the administration and treatment of the condition.