Crohn’s is an inflammatory bowel disease, meaning it causes inflammation in the digestive tract, which can spread to the deep layers of the bowel. Crohn’s disease can cause painful symptoms that interfere with daily life, and it can lead to potentially life-threatening complications for some people. Fortunately, there is treatment available for Crohn’s, which can make symptoms more manageable and heal inflammation in the digestive tract.
Symptoms of Crohn’s can vary from person-to-person, and people may have periods with no symptoms. Oftentimes, symptoms come on gradually, but they can appear suddenly in some cases. There are multiple symptoms of Crohn’s, but some common ones include stomach pain, diarrhea, and weight loss.
What causes Crohn’s disease?
The exact cause of Crohn’s disease is unknown, but genetics and the immune system are believed to play a role in its development. An infection can cause an abnormal immune response, whereby the immune system attacks cells in the digestive system, causing inflammation. A family history of Crohn’s increases a person’s risk, but many people with Crohn’s have no family history of the disease, so genetics is not the only risk factor. Stress, diet, and use of certain anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen can make Crohn’s worse.
What are the complications of Crohn’s disease?
Crohn’s disease can lead to serious complications like ulcers, bowel obstructions, malnutrition, and blood clots. It can also cause health problems like liver disease, anemia, skin disorders, osteoporosis, and arthritis and increase the risk of colon cancer. Some people with Crohn’s may develop fistulas, which are abnormal connections between body parts, and others may experience anal fissures, which are small tears near the anus.
How is Crohn’s disease treated?
There is no cure for Crohn’s disease, and the best treatment will vary from person to person. Ultimately, the goal of treatment is to reduce inflammation in the digestive tract, which improves the symptoms of Crohn’s. Anti-inflammatory medications like corticosteroids are commonly used as treatment, and some people may take immune system suppressors. Another type of drugs, called biologics, target immune system proteins and may be used to treat Crohn’s. Antibiotics may also be used to fight harmful intestinal bacteria, and medications that treat symptoms like diarrhea may be beneficial for some people. If symptoms do not improve, some people may require surgery to remove unhealthy parts of the digestive tract.
- “Sometimes I have no symptoms of Crohn’s, but when symptoms flare up, I experience diarrhea alongside stomach pain and cramping.”
- “I feel extremely tired, and I experience weight loss from lack of appetite.”
- “Sometimes I get a fever, and I notice blood in my stool and sores in my mouth.”