Crohn’s Disease

Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It causes inflammation of the lining of your digestive tract, which can lead to abdominal pain, severe diarrhea and even malnutrition. Inflammation caused by Crohn’s disease can involve different areas of the digestive tract in different people.
The inflammation caused by Crohn’s disease often spreads deep into the layers of affected bowel tissue. Like ulcerative colitis, another common IBD, Crohn’s disease can be both painful and debilitating, and sometimes may lead to life-threatening complications.
While there’s no known cure for Crohn’s disease, therapies can greatly reduce the signs and symptoms of Crohn’s disease and even bring about long-term remission. With treatment, many people with Crohn’s disease are able to function well.

Symptoms

The most common symptoms associated with Crohn’s Disease include abdominal pain, often in the right lower quadrant, and diarrhoea. Rectal bleeding, loss of appetite, fever and weight loss may also occur. Bleeding may persist and cause anaemia. Because Crohn’s is a chronic disease, patients will experience periods of aggravation of symptoms and other periods of remission. During periods of active symptoms, patients may experience fatigue, joint pain and skin problems. Some patients may experience symptoms ranging from mild to severe. Children with Crohn’s Disease may suffer delayed development and stunted growth.

People with Crohn’s Disease may feel well and be free of symptoms for substantial spans of time when their disease is not active. Despite the need to take medication for long periods of time and occasional hospitalizations, most people with Crohn’s Disease are able to hold jobs, raise families, and function successfully at home and in society.

Treatment

There is currently no cure for Crohn’s disease, and there is no one treatment that works for everyone.

Medication

The goal of medical treatment is to reduce the inflammation that triggers your signs and symptoms. It is also to improve long-term prognosis by limiting complications. In the best cases, this may lead not only to symptom relief but also to long-term remission. Treatment for Crohn’s disease usually involves drug therapy or, in certain cases, surgery.

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    Anti-inflammatory drugs

    Anti-inflammatory drugs are often the first step in the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease.
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    Immune system suppressors

    These drugs also reduce inflammation, but they target your immune system rather than directly treating inflammation. By suppressing the immune response, inflammation is also reduced. Sometimes, these drugs are used in combination. For example, a combination of azathioprine and infliximab has been shown to work better than either drug alone in some people.
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    Antibiotics

    Antibiotics can reduce the amount of drainage and sometimes heal fistulas and abscesses in people with Crohn’s disease. Researchers also believe antibiotics help reduce harmful intestinal bacteria and suppress the intestine’s immune system, which can trigger symptoms. However, there’s no strong evidence that antibiotics are effective for Crohn’s disease..

Surgery

If diet and lifestyle changes, drug therapy or other treatments don’t relieve your signs and symptoms, your doctor may recommend surgery.

During surgery, your surgeon removes a damaged portion of your digestive tract and then reconnects the healthy sections. In addition, surgery may also be used to close fistulas and drain abscesses. A common procedure for Crohn’s is strictureplasty, which widens a segment of the intestine that has become too narrow.

The benefits of surgery for Crohn’s are usually temporary. The disease often recurs, frequently near the reconnected tissue or elsewhere in the digestive tract. Up to 3 of 4 people with Crohn’s disease eventually need some type of surgery. Many will also need a second procedure or more. The best approach is to follow surgery with medication to minimize the risk of recurrence.