Crohn’s Disease

Nerve system

Crohn’s disease is named after Dr. Burril Crohn. It is a chronic inflammatory disorder which affects any part of the digestive system. Crohn’s disease usually develops in the small intestine, on a section just before the large intestine which is called ileum. Other common site where this disease develops is in the large intestine. It is also one of many inflammatory bowel diseases.

Crohn’s disease may develop in several spots simultaneously along the digestive tract. This disease is not curable but it can be treated. It can also cause many complications.

Common symptoms affecting digestive tract are:

  • Abdominal cramps often felt on the lower right part
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Blood in stool
  • Bleeding in the rectum
  • Ulcers in the digestive tract which are usually seen in the intestine
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fistulas or holes in the intestines connecting to other parts of the body like stomach or bladder
  • Abscesses, fistulas and ulcers near the anus
  • Constipation

Some symptoms also appear in other systems in the body. Some are results of infections or results of poor absorption of nutrients in the intestine for a long period of time. Symptoms occurring in other system include:

  • Anemia caused by blood loss or poor iron absorption
  • Arthritis or sore joints usually in the knees or hip
  • Delayed puberty
  • Eye infections
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite or weight loss
  • Osteoporosis due to poor vitamin D and calcium absorption
  • Persistent low grade fever
  • Poor blood clotting due to inadequate vitamin K absorption
  • Skin infections
  • Small growth in children

Treatment for Crohn’s disease is intended to prevent vitamins and minerals deficiencies, control inflammation and relieving symptoms. Treatment also involves a combination of biologic therapies, drugs, surgery and nutritional supplements. Usually, people with mild to moderate Crohn’s disease are treated with anti-inflammatory drugs like sulfasalazine (Azulfidine) or mesalamine (Canasa, Asa-col, Rowasa). Those experiencing moderate to severe Crohn’s disease are prescribed with corticosteroid drugs like prednisone (Deltasone, Orasone Meticorten). These drugs have major side effects so these cannot be used for a longer period of treatment. Antibiotics are also used to treat infections that may occur like fistula formation and ulcer. If medical treatment is ineffective due to thickened intestine walls, it is advisable to undergo a surgery. Surgical removal of the thickened part of the intestine may relieve symptoms for a few years but these symptoms usually return after a few years.