Crohn's Disease

Crohn's Disease (ileitis or enteritis) - an ongoing disorder that causes inflammation of the digestive tract. Crohn's disease can affect any area of the GI tract, from the mouth to the anus, but it most commonly affects the lower part of the small intestine, called the ileum. The swelling can cause pain and can make the intestines empty frequently, resulting in diarrhea.

Crohns disease is a type of Inflammatory Bowel Disease, the general name for diseases that cause swelling in the intestines. Symptoms of Crohn's are similar to other intestinal disorders, such as inflammatory bowel syndrome and ulcerative colitis, it can be difficult to diagnose.

Symptoms of Crohn's Disease

Difference Between Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis

Crohn's disease affects men and women equally but there are a few variants:

Causes of Crohn's Disease

The most popular theory is that the immune system mistakes normal substances for being foreign and attacks these normally-occurring nutrients. This results in chronic inflammation, which leads to ulcerations and bowel injury.

Scientists do not know if the abnormality in the functioning of the immune system in people with Crohn's disease is a cause, or a result, of the disease. Research points to several factors of why these abnormal reactions happen:

Scientists have found that high levels of a protein produced by the immune system, called tumor necrosis factor (TNF), are present in people with Crohn's disease.

Tests and Diagnosis for Crohn's Disease

Dangerous Cases of Crohn's Disease

The most common complication is blockage of the intestine which happens from thickening of the intestinal wall with swelling and scar tissue, narrowing the passage. Crohn's disease may also cause sores ulcers that create holes from the affected area into surrounding parts of the body like bladder, vagina, or skin.

The areas around the anus and rectum are often involved. The tunnels, called fistulas, are a common complication and often become infected, requiring medicine, but in some cases surgery. Also, small tears called fissures may develop in the lining of the mucus membrane of the anus.

Stress and Diet for People with Crohn's

Crohn's disease and cause deficiencies of proteins, calories, and vitamins. These deficiencies may be caused by inadequate dietary intake, intestinal loss of protein, or poor absorption, also referred to as malabsorption. People with Crohn's disease often experience a decrease in appetite, which can affect their ability to receive the daily nutrition needed for good health and healing.

No special diet has been proven effective for preventing or treating Crohn's, but it is very important that people to follow a nutritious diet and avoid any foods that seem to worsen symptoms.

There is no evidence showing that stress causes Crohn's disease. However, patients sometimes report that they experience a flare in disease when they are experiencing a stressful event or situation.

Treatment for Crohn's Disease

One of the most important treatments is the human aspect of the disorder. Luckily there is some great work being done by a Crohn's support group at the Crohn's Disease Support Network that has built a great community of supportive members.

Crohns Disease Support Network

Medical treatment may include drugs, nutrition supplements, surgery, or a combination of these options. The goals of treatment are to control inflammation, correct nutritional deficiencies, and relieve symptoms like abdominal pain, diarrhea, and rectal bleeding. Treatment can help control the disease by lowering the number of times a person experiences a recurrence, but there is no cure.

Treatment depends on the location and severity of disease, complications, and the person's response to previous medical treatments when treated for recurring symptoms. Some people have long periods of remission, sometimes years. However, the disease usually recurs at various times. This changing pattern of the disease means one cannot always tell when a treatment has helped. Predicting when a remission may occur or when symptoms will return is not possible.

Medical help may include

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