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Monday, Jan. 4, 2016

CROHN’S DISEASE

Symptoms can vary depending on patient’s case

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Symptoms can vary depending on patient’s case

Relatively common among both men and women, Crohn’s disease affects upward of 600,000 people in the United States according to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

The inflammatory bowel disease presents most commonly between the ages of 15-35, but the onset can be at any age. The BIDMC explains Crohn’s disease is more often seen in northern and urban areas.

A chronic inflammatory condition, Crohn’s disease can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract. The inflammation of the bowel walls can trigger a variety of symptoms that range from mild to severe. General symptoms can include fever, loss of appetite, weight loss, fatigue, night sweats and in women – loss of normal menstrual cycle. Symptoms specific to how Crohn’s disease affects the gastrointestinal tract are persistent diarrhea, rectal bleeding, abdominal cramps and pain, constipation and an urgent need to move bowels, according to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America. Symptoms vary in patients based on the severity of the inflammation and location of the Crohn’s disease in the gastrointestinal tract. In younger children, the condition can delay growth and development.

While there is no cure for the disease and it is chronic in nature, symptoms can often be managed with treatment. According to the CCFA, there can be times in which Crohn’s disease has periods in which it flares up and other times in which it is in remission and patients may not experience any symptoms. In order to manage symptoms properly and begin treatment for Crohn’s disease, a diagnosis is necessary but cannot be determined with one single test. Because the condition is similar to others, it may be diagnosed by way of eliminating other possibilities and could take a period of time before officially determined.

The CCFA explains early testing can include a physical examination of the body and collecting of family history and symptoms experienced, as well as X-rays, blood work and testing of stool matter. If needed, an endoscopy may be ordered for the physician to examine the interior of the colon with a small camera. The procedure can be either a colonoscopy or an upper endoscopy. A biopsy of the colon may also be required to determine the presence of a disease. Most of the time, testing and diagnosing can take place on an outpatient basis.

There are a number of treatment options for Crohn’s disease, however, they vary based upon each individual patient. A range or combination of medication, diet and nutrition or surgery could be recommended depending on the severity of symptoms. Medication is used to control the inflammatory response and offer relief as well as aiding with fever, diarrhea and pain, as well as allow for healing in the intestinal tissue. While primarily used to suppress symptoms, medication for Crohn’s disease is also used to decrease the frequency of flareups.

Changing diet and nutrition can have a positive effect in treating the chronic condition by reducing symptoms and promoting healing, according to the CCFA. Because a symptom of Crohn’s disease can include loss of appetite and weight loss, paying particular attention to diet can benefit by replacing many lost nutrients and help with energy and promote the absorption of nutrients. Should the patient be found to be lactoseintolerant, it may be required that dairy be restricted. Furthermore, spicy or highfiber foods have been found to cause issues as well.

According to the CCFA, nearly twothirds of those with Crohn’s disease may require surgery due to medication and diet and nutrition changes are not as effective. The surgery involves removing parts of the diseased segment of the bowels in order to restore a better quality of life. Surgery may also be required should there be a development of a fissure or intestinal obstruction. However, though surgery may be initially helpful in resolving symptoms, Crohn’s typically appears later in life. Up to 30 percent of patients experience a recurrence within three years of surgery, and 60 percent will have a recurrence within 10 years.

More information:

Consult a doctor about the possibility of Crohn’s disease. Understanding symptoms, flare-ups, remission and lifestyle changes can make for a more manageable treatment. For more information, go to www.ccfa.org.

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