Inflammatory bowel disease is a collection of chronic intestinal bowel problems that can become fatal if not properly treated. It is a long term disorder which usually is more prevalent in young adults, ages of people 19 to 40 years.
The exact cause is unknown, but a major process found in the pathology of this disorder suggests an autoimmune mechanism. Autoimmune means the body’s immune system is attacking the body’s organs.
Inflammatory bowel disease is made of two specific conditions: Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative colitis.
We at Mayor Boss would like to tell you all you need to know about Crohn’s disease. We have a lot of information to discuss, so let’s dive right in.
What is Crohn’s disease
Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel ailment that affects the small intestine majorly but can affect any part of the Gastrointestinal tract (esophagus to anus).
The small intestine is made up of three parts in this order: Duodenum – Jejunum – ileum. In Crohn’s, the most commonly affected part of the small intestine is the last part, which is the ileum.
How serious is Crohn’s disease
Crohn’s is an extremely painful disorder that can be debilitating because it spreads deep (transmurally) to all four layers of the intestine (serosa- muscularis – submucosa – mucosa) and can cause perforation (fistulas) and bleeding over time.
Cause of Crohn’s disease
The exact cause is not known, but studies suggest that the immune system malfunction during an attempt to clear out a gastrointestinal infection (viral or bacteria), and the dysfunction leads to generalized destruction of healthy intestinal cells.
Signs of Crohn’s disease
Here are the signs and symptoms of Crohn’s disease:
- Occasional blood in the stool (a non-massive bleed)
- Severe sharp or stabbing abdominal pain and tenderness
- Cramping following meals
- Fatigue (extreme tiredness)
- Bloating and abdominal swelling as a result of the presence of abdominal mass
- Occasion presence of mucus in stool
- Problems passing gas due to abdominal obstructions in some people
- Flatulence in some people
- Weight loss and lack of appetite
- Severe diarrhea in some people
- Fistula (presence of an infectious hole(tunnel) around the anus. This will present as visible fecal content around the tunnel).
- Anal fissures (tear around the anus)
Who is at risk for Crohn’s disease?
Certain factors predisposed a person to get Crohn’s disease:
- Hereditary (it is seen mostly in people in families members where Crohn’s disease is prevalent or other autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis)
- Ethnicity: it is prevalent in Caucasian people and those of eastern European Jewish descent
- Age (young adult)
- History of smoking
- Long term use of Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- High fat /refined foods have been suggested to be one of the triggers of Crohn’s disease.
How are you tested for Crohn’s disease
Crohn’s disease is a diagnosis with the help of a person’s complaint, physical findings, Blood test, instrumental findings from a colonoscopy, histological findings after a biopsy, capsule endoscopy, CT scan of the abdominal cavity and an MRI examination.
What will happen if Crohn’s disease is left untreated
When Crohn’s is not treated, several complications arise that can be fatal such as :
- Fistula (is the most common complication of Crohn’s disease)
- Anal fissure
- Colon cancer
- Formation of ulcers in any part of the gastrointestinal tract (mouth to the anus).
What treatments are available for Crohn’s disease
There is no cure for Crohn’s disease, but symptoms and autoimmune destruction are managed with lifestyle modifications and certain medications:
- Lifestyle Modifications: quit smoking, light exercise, reduce stress because stress worsens Crohn’s symptoms.
- Immunosuppressive drugs (Azathioprine, infliximab, adalimumab, methotrexate)
- Oral 5-aminosalicylates (sulfasalazine)
- Antibiotics (ciprofloxacin, metronidazole)
- Antidiarrheal (loperamide and diphenoxylate).