Monday, November 12, 2012

What IS Crohn's Disease?

To me, what IS Crohn's Disease?, simply, it's very painful and it's a pain in the ass, figuratively and literally.......but having said that, here it is in clinical form:

Crohn's Disease is a chronic inflammation of the digestive track.

The digestive track covers the following:
  • Mouth
  • Esophagus
  • Stomach
  • Small Intestine
  • Large Intestine
  • Rectum
  • Anus
Crohn's can affect any of those areas, but most commonly attacks the ileum or the lower small intestine, as in my case.  The swelling of the affected area will cause pain and diarrhea.

Abdominal pain and diarrhea are the most common symptoms of crohn's disease. Other symptoms include rectal bleeding, weight loss, arthritis, skin problems, inflammation in the eyes, and fever. The range and severity of symptoms can vary. A diagnosis of Crohn's may involve blood tests, stool tests, upper GI, colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, or biopsy.

Crohn's may involve several factors including heredity, environment and the immune system. The main theory is that the body's immune system reacts to good bacteria and food as it would to a foreign body and tries to fight it off. Because of this, white blood cells will gather in the lining of the intestines and result in chronic inflammation.  So, basically, no one really knows for sure.....yet.

Treatment may include a combination of drugs, nutrition supplements, and surgery. The goals of treatment are to ease the symptoms, control inflammation and improve nutrition. Currently, there is no cure for Crohn's Disease. However, people can have a long period of remission where they are symptom free.
Drugs may include anti-inflammation, steroids, cortisone, immune system suppressors, Remicade, antibiotics, anti-diarrheal and fluid replacements.