Crohn’s Disease is one of a variety of Inflammatory Bowel Disease, or IBDs, which manifest with symptoms of inflammation to the intestines, the anus, the mouth, and also the gastrointestinal tract. The disorder is thought to have genetic components regarding causes and origins, and evidence supports the idea that the condition is partly hereditary. Crohn’s Disease differs from conditions such as Ulcerative Colitis because in addition to it being an IBS, it is also known as an autoimmune disease, which is characterized by the body’s immune system attacking itself, in this particular case, the gastrointestinal tract.
Crohn’s Disease was named after an American specialist named Burrill Bernard Crohn, in 1932. It typically presents during adolescence or early adulthood, but can also develop in older individuals ranging in age from between the fifties to the seventies.
Crohn’s Disease symptoms are characterized by abdominal pain, cramping, loose stool, nausea, vomiting, and, or, weight loss. In some cases, the disorder can also generate symptoms such as arthritis, skin lesions, irritation and inflammation of the eye, or arthritis. Like other IBSs, there is no outright cure, but rather a set of treatments and strategies, some of which are preventative, others of which strive to maintain remission, but whose ultimate objective is to control the various symptoms.
Crohn’s Disease in children has very specific indicators, which are mainly distinguished by a failure to achieve growth. In this population diagnoses are frequently made when growth retardation has been demonstrated. Amongst older individuals, a lack of appetite in addition to weight loss and the symptoms previously noted is a common indicator the disorder is present. In addition to the gastrointestinal symptoms, Crohn’s Disease can also show symptoms affecting the skin, the blood, and also the endocrine system, which is the body’s glandular apparatus responsible for monitoring hormonal balance. Symptoms that target the skin tend to be red or pink lesions on the shins, and results from inflammation occurring in what is known as the subcutaneous tissue, or tissue that resides directly underneath one’s outer layer of skin. In rarer cases the disorder can cause complications which include intestinal obstruction, where passing stool becomes difficult or impossible, abscesses, or what is called fistulae, which is an abnormal connection in the body between tissues that is not meant to be linked. Other, more serious risks, can include an increased vulnerability to developing cancer in the region that is inflamed.
Crohn’s Disease diagnoses at times are problematic because symptomatically the disorder can closely resemble Ulcerative Colitis, and typically a number of tests may be required to distinguish one from the other, and to determine the exact nature of one’s ailment. Although complete eradication of the disease is not possible, following a medication regiment and making alterations to one’s lifestyle are prescribed modes of remedying the disorder. Medications include antibiotics to treat secondary infections, in addition to anti-inflammatory drugs such as Aminosalicylates and Corticosteroids. Other drugs that are employed to treat Crohn’s symptoms include prednisone and again, aminosalicylates. Still in other cases immunosuppressive drugs are required to maintain a state of remission.
Crohn’s Disease also demands certain lifestyle changes, which include dietary alterations, restricting use of tobacco, and maintaining adequate hydration. Exercising, maintaining proper weight and a balanced diet, eating smaller meals frequently as opposed to large meals sporadically, and combating fatigue by ensuring one is rested are also measures commonly prescribed to assist with both prevention and resolution of symptoms. Whatever course is decided upon, it is imperative to acquire the proper information to assist making the best possible decision. Communicating with one’s physician is paramount to helping resolve symptoms and achieve long-term relief from Crohn’s disease.
Written by Dave Gilbert
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