What is Crohn’s Disease?

· August 27, 2017
Do you or does someone you know have Crohn's disease? Learn more about this disease in this article.

Just a few months ago, we observed “World Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Day.” It has been estimated that around five million people around the world are affected by IBD, Crohn’s and other debilitating diseases.

It requires more than just making this condition more visible: awareness is just the starting point, while scientific advancements, medical institutions, and social policy begin to offer new treatments and hope for the affected population.

For those who have never heard of Crohn’s disease, it is certainly one of the most complex and poorly understood of these diseases.

  • It’s a chronic inflammatory disease that can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract from the mouth to the rectum.
  • It frequently affects the lower part of the small intestine and the start of the large intestine.
  • Its origins and triggers are not known. However, it relates to genetic alterations that affect immune system function, triggering an inflammatory reaction in response to the presence of certain factors.

Factors related to Crohn’s disease

This disease is an autoimmune disorder, in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the body and causes inflammation and damage to healthy tissues in the digestive system.

Moreover, inflammation, which can become permanent if left untreated, thickens the walls of the intestine and affects gastrointestinal function.

Additionally, some of the factors that can influence its appearance include:

  • Genetics and family history: you are up to 10 times more likely to suffer from this disease if a close relative also has it.
  • Environmental factors: tobacco use and the toxins from pollution have been linked to this disorder.
  • Viruses and bacteria: excessive growth of viruses and bacteria in the digestive system activates these mechanisms of the immune system.
  • Food: if your body has trouble or is not able to digest certain foods.
  • Age: although this can occur at any age, it’s typically diagnosed in people age 15 to 35.

Symptoms of Crohn’s disease

The symptoms of this disease may vary from patient to patient, depending on which part of the digestive tract it affects.

They may fluctuate from mild to severe, and while they are occasionally permanent they can also appear and disappear in times of stress.

A person could be suffering from Crohn’s disease if they notice:

  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Feeling of fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • The need to move their bowels, even when they are already empty
  • Watery diarrhea, sometimes accompanied by bleeding
  • Weight loss
  • Fever

A specialist should evaluate all of these symptoms. They may also be related to other digestive problems.

In some cases, symptoms may also include:

  • Constipation
  • Inflammation and joint pain
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Red and tender bumps under the skin
  • Cutaneous ulcers

Tests and diagnosis

Moreover, an evaluation of your symptoms by a doctor, a diagnosis of Crohn’s disease is facilitated by tests like the following:

  • Opaque enema or esophagogastroduodenal transit
  • Colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy
  • Computed Tomography (CT) of the abdomen
  • Endoscopy by capsule
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the abdomen
  • Enteroscopy

Treatment of Crohn’s disease

Although Crohn’s disease can lead to surgery to remove the diseased part of the intestine in many cases, most patients are able to cope with the consumption of certain medications and changes to their lifestyle.

Medications

Pharmacological treatments include antidiarrheals and anti-inflammatory drugs. Fiber supplements can also help reduce the severity of symptoms.

Furthermore, Paracetamol may reduce mild pain. You should avoid Aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen because they may worsen your symptoms.

Diet

A balanced, low-calorie diet that incorporates the main nutrient groups can improve patients’ quality of life.

In general, doctors recommend:

  • Avoid consuming processed, fried, and refined foods
  • Increase your water intake
  • Avoid excessive consumption of foods that are rich in fiber
  • Limit your consumption of dairy products if you are lactose intolerant
  • Reduce your consumption of foods that cause gas

How can you work with Janssen’s initiative in support of Crohn’s disease?

Janssen’s campaign works to raise awareness about these intimate and harsh realities through testimonial videos made with real patients in association with ACCU Spain, the Confederation of Associations of Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis.

Further, this pharmaceutical company, a leader in immunological innovations, seeks to reinforce its commitment to initiatives that improve the quality of life of patients affected by Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).

By promoting these kinds of initiatives, you also help institutions raise more funds to facilitate early diagnosis and help patients cope a little better with their social and psychological challenges.

Do your small part, share this information, and offer a breath of hope to the thousands of people who suffer in silence from this chronic and painful disease while supporting science to create a better life for them.