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Facts on Crohn's Disease

What is Crohn's Disease?

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. The swelling of the affected area will cause pain and diarrhea.

Statistics

Crohn's can be found in both men and women. It may run in families, 20% of people diagnosed with the disease have a blood relative with some form of inflammatory bowel disease. It is usually diagnosed between the ages of 20 to 30, although people of all ages can suffer from Crohn's. People of Jewish heritage have a greater risk of developing the disease while people of African American heritage have less of a risk.

Symptoms of Crohn's Disease

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.

Causes

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.

Crohn's Treatment Options

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.

Outlook for Crohn's Disease

Several clinical trials are currently being tested for the treatment of Crohn's. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) supports research into digestive disorders including Crohn's.

Each day new progress is made into the knowledge of how to treat the disease.

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