What is Crohn’s Disease and What are the Signs of It?

March 22, 2023
2 min read
What is Crohn’s Disease and What are the Signs of It?

Crohn’s disease is an often painful condition. It affects about three million people in the U.S. It can be debilitating, and at times, life-threatening. But what is Crohn’s disease? 

The Facts About Crohn's Disease

Known as an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), Crohn’s is caused by inflammation of tissues in the digestive tract. Though it can develop in one segment or multiple segments of the digestive tract, Crohn’s disease is most commonly found in the small intestine. From there, it can spread easily to other deeper parts of the digestive tract and bowels (intestines). 

Though the causes of Crohn’s disease are largely unknown, it is suspected to stem from an autoimmune reaction. This occurs when the immune system starts attacking healthy cells. The immune system is in place to fend off viruses, bacteria and toxins. Sometimes, when on the attack, the immune system attacks those healthy cells caught in the crossfire. This can spark an autoimmune reaction and possibly cause the onset of Crohn’s disease. 

Genetics can also play a part in a person’s susceptibility to Crohn’s disease. Those with a family history of Crohn’s disease are more likely to be afflicted by the disease. 

Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease

Contrary to common belief, Crohn’s disease does not develop from eating certain foods. However, individuals with Crohn’s disease usually try to maintain a well-balanced diet to prevent any worsening of their symptoms. 

With the internal swelling (inflammation) that occurs, sufferers of Crohn’s often experience severe abdominal pain and frequent diarrhea. The symptoms of Crohn’s disease range from mild to severe depending on the case. They include, but are not limited to: 

  • fatigue
  • anemia
  • weight loss
  • malnutrition
  • fever
  • cramping
  • blood in the stool
  • mouth sores
  • reduced appetite
  • anal drainage

Symptoms may develop gradually or they may strike suddenly and without warning. In extreme cases, inflammation can spread to the liver or bile ducts. Kidney stones may develop. Those suffering from Crohn’s disease may also have inflammation of the skin and around the eyes. They may also become anemic.

If you suspect you have Crohn’s disease, a doctor can run a complete physical exam. This might include checking for abdominal bloating, listening for abnormal sounds with a stethoscope, and tapping the abdomen to check for tenderness. Blood and stool tests or a colonoscopy may also be recommended. 

Crohn’s Disease Treatment

Though there is no known cure for Crohn’s disease, there are things you can do to lessen the symptoms and pain. Treatments vary from person to person based on the severity of their case. Treatment for Crohns often include inflammation decreasing medicines or antibiotics if an infection occurs. 

Bowel rest can give the digestive system a chance to clear. This can sometimes involve not eating any food that needs to be ingested by mouth. In such extreme cases, the body still requires nourishment. If hospitalized, an intravenous tube (IV) might be used to administer proper hydration. In more extreme cases a feeding tube is required.  

If the condition is not responding to treatment, surgery is recommended. This is utilized in severe cases where the digestive tract is inflamed. 

Patients with Crohn’s disease should avoid high-fiber foods such as nuts, beans, and whole grains. Eating smaller portioned meals more often rather than larger meals is also helpful. Carbonated drinks such as soda or seltzer should be avoided. These types of drinks can aggravate the digestive tract and worsen the condition.

Many people with Crohn’s disease lead normal lives with little discomfort. With proper, individualized medicine and/or treatments, Crohn’s disease doesn’t have to affect your daily life. For more information on Crohn’s disease and the best treatment plan for you, contact the staff at BASS Medical today.