Know the basics

What is Crohn disease?

Crohn’s disease causes inflammation of the lining of the digestive  system. This inflammation could affect any part of the digestive system, from the mouth to the back passage, but most commonly occurs in the last section of the small intestine or the large intestine.

How common is Crohn disease?

Men and women are equally likely to be affected, and it can occur at any age. Crohn’s is more prevalent among adolescents and young adults between the ages of 15 and 35.

It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Know the symptoms

What are the symptoms of Crohn disease?

There are some common symptoms of Crohn disease:

  • Diarrhoea;
  • Abdominal pain;
  • Unintended weight loss;
  • Blood and mucus in your faces.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

You should contact your doctor if you have any of the following:

  • Abdominal pain;
  • Blood in your stool;
  • Ongoing bouts of diarrhea that don’t respond to over-the-counter (OTC) medications;
  • Unexplained fever lasting more than a day or two;
  • Unexplained weight loss.

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.

Know the causes

What causes Crohn disease?

Immune system

A virus or bacterium may trigger Crohn’s disease. When your immune system tries to fight off the invading microorganism, an abnormal immune response causes the immune system to attack the cells in the digestive tract.

Heredity

Crohn’s is more common in people who have family members with the disease, so genes may play a role in making people more susceptible. However, most people with Crohn’s disease don’t have a family history of the disease.

Know the risk factors

What increases my risk for Crohn disease?

There are many risk factors for Crohn disease, such as:

  • Age: Crohn’s disease can occur at any age, but it usually happens in younger.
  • Ethnicity: whites and people of Eastern European, Jewish descent easy to get this condition.
  • Family history: you’re at higher risk if you have a close relative, such as a parent, sibling or child, with the disease.
  • Smoking is the most important risk factor for developing Crohn’s disease.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen, naproxen sodium, diclofenac sodium, and others can lead to inflammation of the bowel that makes Crohn’s disease worse.
  • The place you live: people live in an urban area, in northern climates or in an industrialized country, at high risk of Crohn’s disease development.
  • A diet high in fat or refined foods plays a role in Crohn’s disease.

Understand the diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is Crohn disease diagnosed?

Blood tests

  • The levels of inflammation in your body;
  • Whether you have an infection ;
  • Whether you’re anemic, which could suggest you’re malnourished or losing blood from your bowel.

Stool sample

You may need to provide a stool sample so that your doctor can test for hidden blood in your stool.

Procedures

  • Colonoscopy allows your doctor to view your entire colon using a thin, flexible, lighted tube with an attached camera. During the procedure, your doctor can also take small samples of tissue (biopsy) for laboratory analysis, which may help confirm a diagnosis.
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy: your doctor uses a slender, flexible, lighted tube to examine the last section of your colon (sigmoid) in this procedure.
  • Capsule endoscopy is used to help diagnose Crohn’s disease.
  • Double-balloon endoscopy: a longer scope is used to look further into the small bowel where standard endoscopes don’t reach. This technique is useful when capsule endoscopy shows abnormalities, but the exact diagnosis is still in question.
  • Computerized tomography (CT) scan.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
  • Small bowel imaging: this test looks at the part of the small bowel that can’t be seen by colonoscopy. After you drink a liquid containing barium, doctors take an X-ray of your small intestine.

How is Crohn disease treated?

Anti-inflammatory drugs

This is often the first step in the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease, include:

Oral 5-aminosalicylate

  • Reduce the effects on colon: sulfasalazine, mesalamine.
  • Side effects: nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, heartburn, and headache.

Corticosteroids

  • Numerous side effects, including a puffy face, excessive facial hair, night sweats, insomnia and hyperactivity, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, cataracts, glaucoma, etc.
  • Doctors generally use them only if you don’t respond to other treatments.

Immune system suppressors

These drugs target your immune system to reduce inflammation. For some people, a combination of these drugs works better than one drug alone. Immunosuppressant drugs include Azathioprine, mercaptopurine, Infliximab, adalimumab, certolizumab pegol, Methotrexate, Cyclosporine and tacrolimus, Natalizumab, vedolizumab, Ustekinumab.

Antibiotics

Antibiotics can reduce the amount of drainage and sometimes heal fistulas and abscesses in people with Crohn’s disease, including Metronidazole, Ciprofloxacin.

Other medications

In addition to controlling inflammation, some medications may help relieve your signs and symptoms but remember talk to your doctor before taking any over-the-counter medications.

  • Anti-diarrheals: psyllium powder (Metamucil) or methylcellulose (Citrucel), loperamide (Imodium). Anti-diarrheals should only be used after discussion with your doctor.
  • Pain relievers: these drugs are likely to make your symptoms worse, and can make your disease worse as well.
  • Iron supplements: if you have chronic intestinal bleeding, you may develop iron deficiency anemia and need to take iron supplements.
  • Vitamin B-12 shots: helps prevent anemia, promotes normal growth and development, and is essential for proper nerve function.
  • Calcium and vitamin D supplements because Crohn’s disease and steroids used to treat it can increase your risk of osteoporosis.

Nutrition therapy

Feeding tube or nutrients injected into a vein are used to treat your Crohn’s disease. This can improve your overall nutrition and allow the bowel to rest. Bowel rest can reduce inflammation in the short term.

Your doctor may use nutrition therapy short term and combine it with medications, such as immune system suppressors. Also, he or she may recommend a low residue or low-fiber diet to reduce the risk of intestinal blockage.

Surgery

Your doctor may recommend surgery, in case that diet and lifestyle changes, drug therapy or other treatments don’t relieve your signs and symptoms.

Lifestyle changes & Home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage Crohn disease?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with Crohn disease:

  • Diet: try low-fat foods, take care with fiber, avoid other problem foods. Spicy foods, alcohol, and caffeine may make your signs and symptoms worse.
  • Eat small meals will make you feel better than two or three larger ones.
  • Drink plenty of liquids.
  • Consider multivitamins because Crohn’s disease can interfere with your ability to absorb nutrients and because your diet may be limited, multivitamin and mineral supplements are often helpful. Check with your doctor before taking any vitamins or supplements.
  • Smoking increases your risk of developing Crohn’s disease, and once you have it, smoking can make it worse.
  • If you have trouble managing stress, try one of these strategies: doing exercises, biofeedback, regular relaxation and breathing exercises.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Review Date: January 4, 2017 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017

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