Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease that affects the lining of the digestive tract.
Crohn’s disease can cause abdominal pain, diarrhoea, weight loss, anaemia, and fatigue. Some people may present symptom-free or only display very mild symptoms, while others can have severe chronic symptoms that are always present and require daily management.
In isolated cases, Crohn’s disease can cause life-threatening complications. However, in most people, it is easily managed with a strict diet and treatment plan without any life-threatening complications.
At the time of writing, Crohn’s disease has no cure.
Medications like steroids and immunosuppressants are used to slow the progression of the disease. If these become effective, the patient may require surgical procedures and intervention.
People with Crohn’s disease may require regular colorectal cancer screening due to increased risk and susceptibility.
Six Warning Signs Of Crohn’s Disease
Symptoms vary from patient to patient, but there are six common symptoms of inflammation of the GI tract caused by Crohn’s disease. If you have any of these symptoms or several combined see your physician or health care provider for a diagnosis and treatment plan outlining your options.
- Persistent diarrhoea.
- Rectal bleeding.
- Urgent need to move bowels.
- Abdominal cramps and pain.
- The sensation of incomplete bowel evacuation.
- Constipation that leads to impaction and bowel obstruction.
Crohn’s Disease Requires A Medical Diagnosis
Crohn’s disease can cause a diverse range of symptoms, most commonly abdominal pain, diarrhoea, weight loss, anaemia, and fatigue. Some people may present as fairly symptom-free most of their lives, while others can have severe chronic symptoms that require daily maintenance and strict dietary control.
Sufferers may experience one or more of the following:
- Whole body: fatigue, fever, or loss of appetite
- Anal: fissures or bleeding
- Pain types: can be mild, transient, or severe, or vary depending on food groups and types. Certain dietary intakes might induce more pain and discomfort than others.
- Pain areas: in the abdomen, joints, lower abdomen, or rectum
- Gastrointestinal: bloating, bowel obstruction, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, or flatulence
- Also common: cramping, depression, flare, mouth ulcer, slow growth, or weight loss
Treatment For Crohn’s Disease
Treatment consists largely of anti-inflammatory medications. While research is ongoing, Crohn’s disease has not yet had a breakthrough that provides a cure for the condition as we enter 2023.
Immunosuppressants and steroids are used to slow the progression of the disease, but in cases where all measures to control have failed or if they become ineffective, a patient may require surgical intervention.
Crohn’s disease sufferers may be asked to undertake regular colorectal cancer screening because their disease places them at a greater risk for bowel and colon cancers.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs,
- Anti-inflammatory, Steroid,
- Immunosuppressive drug,
- Strict dietary control
- Bowel resection
- Medical procedures
- High colonic irrigation
- Dietary modifications
Specialists You Might Need If You Have Crohn’s Disease
Gastroenterologist: Focuses on the digestive system and its disorders.
Nutritionist: Specialises in food and diet.
Paediatrician: Provides medical care for infants, children, and teenagers.
General Practitioner (GP): Your personal physician who will refer and liaise with your specialists. Usually, the first person to identify, diagnose, treat, and prevent diseases.
Surgeon: Performs operations to treat or correct complications and disease.
Emergency Physician: Treats patients who present in the emergency department. They are not your family or personal doctor, or healthcare provider. They provide the initial assessment and diagnosis and then decide what treatment is required from that point. They may refer you back to your personal physician for follow-up examinations, tests and referrals to specialists where required. If your situation falls into an emergency category, you will be admitted to the hospital and undergo surgery and the correct treatment for the individual situation.