6 Important things to know about Crohn’s Disease
As Crohn’s disease is characterized by chronic inflammation of the GI tract, one must know the specific area of this tract that is mostly affected by it. The GI tract of human beings includes the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, and anal region. Among these parts, the most commonly affected areas are the ileum in the small intestine and the colon in the large intestine. As this disease happens to be chronic, it can permanently affect the patient for their whole life but coordinating with your physicians can help you to manage the symptoms and complications of this disease in the best possible way. In most cases, the last cure for this disease is surgery.
What are the causes of Crohn’s disease?
The cause of Crohn’s disease can be categorized into three broad categories:
- Antibiotics intake
- Intake of NSAIDs
Deregulated immune response
Unlike the normal functioning of the immune system, when the infection inside the GI tract gets removed, the inflammation which was before caused as an immune response remains persistent and becomes chronic due to the abnormal functioning of the immune system.
The actual cause of Crohn’s disease is still a matter of research and is not yet completely explored. However, it is currently speculated that the cause of this disease may also lie in the genetics of the person who gets affected by it which makes this disease often get confused with ulcerative colitis.
Important symptoms of chron’s disease
Crohn’s symptoms directly depend upon the location at which the inflammation is caused and the severity of this disease. The most common symptoms of this disease happen to be:
- Severe pain in the abdomen
Less common symptoms due to inflammation caused by this disease include:
- Appetite loss
- Tenderness in the abdomen
- Unusual weight loss
- Rectal bleeding
Complications of chron’s disease in children
Although this disease mostly affects people of adult age or late teens, it also becomes apparent in some children of very young age. Physiologically, this disease can drastically affect the normal growth of the child and can even make them fail to thrive. Due to this, there always remains a great psychological impact on them as children due to the symptoms of this disease becoming impaired to actively participate in many important social activities.
What happens to intestines due to chron’s disease
The intestinal wall has many ridges and grooves and can be separated into a mucosal layer, sub-mucosal layer, the muscle layer, and serosa. Normally, foreign material is not permitted to enter the mucosal layer of the intestinal wall. It is speculated that due to some unknown defect in the epithelial layer the pathogen is allowed to get through this layer. Once the foreign material gets through the wall, the immune system gets activated and remains unregulated. As cells become chronically inflamed, they are destroyed and the inflammation invades the mucosal layers and organizes into granulomas. A granuloma is a mass of immune cells which digests anything it considers to be foreign. Due to this inflammatory cellular damage, ulcers form. The damage caused by this disease can extend beyond the sub-mucosal layer, unlike ulcerative colitis, and through the entire depth of the intestinal wall.
Three main differences between chron’s disease and ulcerative colitis
- Unlike ulcerative colitis, the inflammation in the intestine due to chron’s disease is scattered and has areas of healthy tissue interspersed between inflamed areas
- The main distinction between chron’s disease from other inflammatory bowel diseases is that the damage caused by this disease is deeper into the intestinal wall and can affect other organs close to the intestine.
- The inflammation due to chron’s disease can occur in any part of the GI tract whereas ulcerative colitis only affects the colon.
How is chron’s disease treated?
The treatment of this disease starts with the aim of reducing the symptoms which include:
Managing diet: Reduce the intake of raw fruits and vegetables.
Nutritional therapy: Use of a feeding tube or intravenous preparation for meeting the nutrition needs of the patient without disturbing the bowel.
Medicines: The medications for this disease vary on the basis of severity and the patient’s response. Common categories of medicines used in Crohn’s disease treatment are:
Surgery: Most patients who are affected by this disease require at least one surgery to treat fistulas and abscesses. A surgical procedure is also done to prevent recurrent intestinal obstruction.
There is a wide range of complications that can occur due to Crohn’s disease. These complications can be mild or severe depending upon the chron’s causes and symptoms. It is very important to get in touch with an experienced medical professional gastroenterologist Dr. Vatsal Mehta as soon as possible to avoid serious difficulties such as growth retardation, scarring of the intestine, rectal bleeding, etc.