Crohn’s Disease


Crohn’s disease is chronic condition that inflames the digestive system and gut. Although the condition can affect any part of the gut, the most commonly affected areas are the ileum or the large intestine, the colon.

Symptoms

The symptoms one might experience from Crohn’s Disease are dependent on the area of the gut affected by the condition. Most common symptoms of the condition include recurring diarrhea, abdominal pain that worsens after eating, extreme fatigue and weight loss. Some people extreme severe symptoms, and some less, and this is mainly dependent on the area of the gut an individual is affected in.

There are also remission periods experienced by large amounts of individuals affected by the condition, where weeks and months can go by, with individuals experiencing little or very mild symptoms followed by periods where the symptoms are very intense known as flare-up periods. Children affected by Crohn’s Disease can also have their growth stunted, as the condition can limit the body from receiving vital nutrients.

Causes

The exact cause of Crohn’s Disease is unknown, however researchers believe a combination of factors may be behind it such as genetics, immune system, smoking and environmental factors. Diet is thought to be unrelated to an individual developing the disease, however there are certain dietary changes those affected by the disease can make, which has shown to reduce symptoms such as cutting back on dairy products.

Researchers think that Crohn’s may be linked to genetics because it occurs more frequently in some ethnic group than others. Smoking is also suspected because smokers are twice as likely to develop the disease than those who don’t, and furthermore smokers experience more severe symptoms that require surgery.

Environmental factors is also suspected since highest numbers occur in the developed parts of the world and the lowest amount occur in less developed countries such as those in Africa or Asia. Another correlation researchers have found is that Crohn has become more frequent from the 1950s suggesting it is something to do with modern western lifestyles.

Treatment

There is currently no cure for the disease however treatments can subsidies the symptoms to a large degree. Initial treatment for the disease involves the use of steroid medication, known as corticosteroids, which help reduce inflammation. Further treatment is necessary if the condition flares up again when the dosage for the steroid medication is reduced. In such instances medication is prescribed to suppress the immune system, which are called immunosuppressants.

In more severe cases, surgery is required to treat the disease. The type of surgery used is called ileostomy, where the colon is disconnected from the ileum and routed through a hole in the stomach, and all waste produced by the body is collected from an external bag. Many times, another surgery is performed at a later date that closes the hole and reattaches the ileum to the colon.

 
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