Crohn’s Disease is a debilitating gastrointestinal disease that causes chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. A form of inflammatory bowel disease, an estimated 700,000 people are believed to have Crohn’s Disease in the U.S. alone. The condition affects both genders and people of all ages, though it is most prevalent among young adults and adolescents. People with Crohn’s Disease have altered immune systems that perceive healthy bacteria as a threat, causing the body to constantly fight these organisms. Over time, the walls of the intestines thicken and suffer irreversible damage.
Did you know…
the symptoms of Crohn’s Disease typically come in ‘waves’ or ‘flare ups’? These usually include severe abdominal pain, cramping, fever, constipation and diarrhea. Crohn’s symptoms may be exacerbated by certain lifestyle factors, such as stress and diet. Managing these components can help reduce the frequency and severity of flare-ups, although people with Crohn’s require medical management of the condition.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the risk factors for Crohn’s Disease?
Researchers are not sure exactly what causes the condition, but they do know that some people are genetically pre-disposed to developing the disease. In fact, as many as 1 in 5 people with Crohn’s have a close relative with the disease. Researchers also believe that Crohn’s can be ‘triggered’ by other external factors, such as certain foods, cigarette smoke, or even certain types of bacteria. Once the reaction has begun, it cannot be stopped. Anyone can develop Crohn’s – including those with no family history of the disease.
What are the complications of Crohn’s Disease?
Crohn’s Disease tends to worsen over time when not properly managed. In addition to severe discomfort, people with this condition may experience weight loss, ulcers, skin rashes, and inflammation of the eyes and mouth. Children may have stunted growth due to nutritional deficiency. Some people with Crohn’s Disease develop secondary disorders, such as arthritis, gallstones and kidney stones.
How can a colon and rectal surgeon treat Crohn’s Disease?
The first line of treatment for Crohn’s Disease is always as conservative as possible and may include the use of nutritional supplements and medications. There is no cure for Crohn’s Disease, but many people are able to reduce inflammation, avoid nutritional deficiency and alleviate uncomfortable symptoms with treatment.
When drug therapy and other treatments are not effective, surgery may be recommended to remove the damaged portion of the digestive tract and reconnect the healthy sections. In fact, approximately 50 percent of all patients with Crohn’s Disease will eventually require at least one surgery to treat the condition. In some cases, surgery may also be used to drain perianal abscesses and treat anal fistulas.