Lonestar Gastroenterology

Everything You Need to Know About Crohn's Disease

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Everything You Need to Know About Crohn's Disease

Millions of people struggle with Crohn’s disease, a bowel condition that causes moderate to severe symptoms that may last for years. Read on to find out the causes, symptoms, and treatments for this illness.

Eating is a vital part of how we live. To process food in-take, your digestive system works to regulate what you eat, extract the nutrients from it that your body needs, separate the waste, and expel it from your body. Over the 24 to 72 hours your body needs to process food, the stomach passes what we eat through your duodenum (the first part of the small intestine), into our intestines. The food is then broken down into vital components and removes what’s left through your anus.

Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs) disrupt digestion by creating problems in different parts of the digestive tract, and affect around 3 million AmericansCrohn’s disease is a type of IBD that 500,000 people in the US suffer from and can lead to severe or even life-threatening complications. However, it can be managed and treatment can even lead to remission. Dr. Rajesh Mehta and the experienced medical team at Lonestar Gastroenterology in Austin, Texas can provide relief of Crohn’s disease or other gastrointestinal (GI) problems. 

Let’s learn more about this condition and how it affects your body, common causes and symptoms, and methods of treatment.

How Crohn’s disease affects your body

This bowel disease creates inflammation and irritation that can affect any part of your digestive tract, but is very common in the small and large intestines. The inflammation related to Crohn’s disease commonly leads to discomfort, pain, diarrhea and stomach cramps, but can also lead to severe complications, such as bowel obstructions, tunnel-like openings called fistulas, ulcers, malnutrition, and colon cancer. The type of Crohn’s you have will depend on where it is located in your digestive system, which includes:

  • Ileocolitis: the most common type of Crohn’s that affects both your small and part of your large intestine
  • Ileitis: a form of inflammation that affects your small intestine
  • Gastroduodenal: a variation of this disease located in your stomach and duodenum
  • Jejunoileitis: patchy areas of inflammation found in your jejunum, the upper half of your small intestine
  • Granulomatous: affecting the longest part of your large intestine (colon), also known as Crohn’s colitis

This condition affects both men and women fairly equally, and while it can happen at any age, it is most commonly developed between your late teens and your 30’s. 

Common causes and symptoms

While the primary cause of this type of bowel disease is not entirely understood, risk factors include family history, autoimmune disorders, age, and smoking. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) don’t cause this condition but they can have an adverse effect on people suffering from it.

Common symptoms for Crohn’s disease include diarrhea, fatigue, fever, abdominal pain, cramping, hematochezia (blood in the stool), mouth sores, reduced appetite, and weight loss. Severe versions of this disease may also be present with inflammation in the eyes, skin, joints, liver, bile ducts, and may also cause you to experience kidney stones, anemia, or delayed maturity in children. 

Methods of treatment

This illness can be treated with a combination of methods ranging from medications to surgical intervention. Many medications can be used to treat Crohn’s disease, such as anti-inflammatory drugs (corticosteroids, Oral 5-aminosalicylates), immune system suppressors (azathioprine, methotrexate), biologics, and antibiotics. Antidiarrheals, pain relievers, vitamins and supplements can also help to manage symptoms.

Nutrition therapy is a method that consists of a special diet administered either orally, through a feeding tube, or through a vein. This can help to restore proper nourishment and help the bowels to relax. This method can also be combined with various medications mentioned previously. Surgery may be recommended when severe cases arise and there's a need to remove damaged sections of your digestive tract, drain abscesses, and close fistulas.

Crohn’s disease can impact your health in moderate or severe ways, but it can be treated. If you have symptoms of this illness, make an appointment today with Dr. Mehta and Lonestar Gastroenterology to get help.