Crohn’s Disease

Crohn’s disease is one of two types of inflammatory bowel disease (see also ulcerative colitis). A chronic condition, Crohn’s disease inflammation affects the digestive tract, anywhere from mouth to anus but most commonly at the end of the small intestine. Symptoms may vary depending on what part of the tract is inflamed. Symptoms that occur outside the digest tract may also occur, affecting the eyes, skin, and joints. Crohn’s is not contagious and is not caused by eating or doing anything specific.

What causes Crohn’s disease?

While the exact causes of Crohn’s disease is not known, it is thought to be an overreaction of the immune system. Normally, the cells and proteins that make up the immune system protect from infection. However, in people with Crohn’s disease, the immune system mistakes food, bacteria, and other materials in the digestive tract for foreign or invading substances. As a result, the body sends white blood cells into the digestive tract, producing chronic inflammation.   

What are the symptoms of Crohn’s disease?

  • Persistent Diarrhea
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Urgent need to move bowels
  • Abdominal cramps and pain
  • Sensation of incomplete evacuation
  • Constipation
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight Loss
  • Fatigue
  • Night sweats
  • Loss of normal menstrual cycle

How is Crohn’s disease diagnosed?

In addition to reviewing your medical and family history and performing the following tests, your GI doctor may recommend a series of medical tests to rule out other bowel diseases, such as IBS, ulcerative colitis, or celiac disease that cause symptoms similar to those of Crohn's disease.

  • Physical exam
  • Blood and stool tests
  • CT scan
  • Colonoscopy or video capsule endoscopy

 

How is Crohn’s disease treated?

There is currently no cure for Crohn's disease, but certain medications and procedures can reduce symptoms and improve quality of life.

Some of these procedure options include:

  • A small or large bowel resection: When Crohn's disease causes a blockage or severe disease in the small intestine, your GI doctor may need to remove a small portion of that section of intestine (a small bowel resection) or a large portion (a large bowel resection).
  • A proctocolectomy is surgery to remove the entire colon and rectum. A removable external collection pouch called an ileostomy is then attached to collect intestinal contents instead.

Request an appointment at San Bernardino Gastroenterology Associates to talk about Crohn’s disease today.