Crohn’s disease is a chronic digestive disease that causes inflammation of the digestive tract. It is also referred to as an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), the general name for diseases that cause inflammation in the small intestine and/or colon. Although it most commonly affects the lower part of the small intestine, Crohn’s disease can affect any part of the digestive tract, from the mouth to the anus. Swelling that extends deep into the lining of the affected organ can cause pain and can make the intestines empty frequently, resulting in diarrhea.
Symptoms of Crohn’s disease include:
- Abdominal pain or discomfort
- Weight Loss
Risk factors for developing Crohn’s disease include:
- Ethnicity: Jewish heritage
- Genetics: blood relative with Crohn’s disease
When to See a Doctor
Occasional abdominal distress such as cramping, bloating or diarrhea may result from a number of causes and often resolve on their own. If your symptoms seem severe, have not resolved within a few days, or if they persist or recur, it’s time for a thorough evaluation and consultation with a specialist. Screening for Crohn’s disease is not routine and requires the expertise of a physician with special training in the diagnosis and management of diseases of the intestinal tract.
Treatment for Crohn’s disease varies and may include the following:
- Lifestyle changes, including, smoking cessation and avoiding “NSAID” medications
- Drug therapy
- Nutritional supplements
- Any combination of the above treatments
The foremost diagnostic "test" for any condition is a thorough exam and consultation with a physician, including a review of your individual and family history. In addition, your physician may recommend any of the following tests or procedures, which may provide further diagnostic value:
- Biopsy, if needed (can be performed in conjunction with other procedures)
- Blood tests
- Video Capsule Endoscopy (PillCam)
Although there are risk factors that may increase an individual’s risk of developing Crohn’s disease, it may also occur in people with no specific risk factors. Crohn’s disease cannot be prevented and patients should see their physician regularly to develop a plan of care to help manage the symptoms and effects of their disease.
Learn more about Crohn’s Disease with the following resources: