Crohn's disease is a form of inflammatory bowel disease and is believed to
be an autoimmune condition. Autoimmune conditions are caused by the body's
defenses attacking non-harmful things like food particles or its own
tissues. Crohn's disease has similar symptoms to IBS (irritable bowel
syndrome) and is difficult to diagnose, so sufferers often have symptoms for
years before getting a diagnosis of Crohn's disease. Crohn's disease is most
commonly diagnosed in the late teens to mid twenties and in 50 to 70 year
olds, but can be diagnosed at any age including childhood. Men and women are
equally likely to have Crohn's disease.
Crohn's disease affects the ilium, colon or both. It causes ulcerations of
the intestinal wall and/or narrowing of the intestines at various points on
the digestive tract. Crohn's disease may also affect other areas of the
digestive tract including all areas from mouth to anus, causing ulcerations
and pain. Sores may also appear on the skin. Ulcerations of the mucosal
lining of the intestine often lead to malabsorption of nutrients. The cause
of Crohn's disease is unknown, but studies have indicated a likely genetic
component and siblings of a person with Crohn's disease are more likely to
have the disease.
Symptoms of Crohn's disease include:
- pain in the abdomen (usually lower left, where the ilium is located)
- frequent bowel movements
- weight loss
In cases where the intestines have become narrowed, infrequent bowel
movements or a change in size of the movement may occur. Weight loss and
loss of appetite are common because not only does Crohn's cause
malabsorption of nutrients, but sufferers also tend to feel better when they
don't eat. For these reasons it may be mistaken for an eating disorder.
Crohn's disease symptoms tend to go through a pattern of flare-ups and
remissions. It is a chronic disorder and does not currently have a cure.
Diet and medications can often control Crohn's disease symptoms and most
people live relatively normal lives. In severe cases, surgery may be
necessary to correct adhesions and other complications of the disease, or to
remove an affected section of bowel to relieve severe symptoms.
Please contact us if
you are experiencing any of the symptoms above for an evaluation.