Crohn's Disease

Crohn's Disease is a chronic inflammatory disease of the lower part of the small intestine, the ileum, although symptoms may be present in other parts of the intestinal tract.

Crohn's Disease is a chronic inflammatory disease of the lower part of the small intestine, the ileum, although symptoms may be present in any part of the intestinal tract. As the inflammation progresses, deep ulcers may form along the intestinal wall. Severe cases can result in anemia, intestinal obstructions and perforated bowel. The disease usually appears around the beginning of puberty and can affect both sexes. Women sufferers usually see a marked reduction in symptoms after menopause. Attacks have no apparent pattern and may occur every few weeks or only once or twice yearly. In rare cases, the disease disappears completely after only a few attacks. While a definite cause is not known, it is believed that heredity is a factor.

Crohn's may cause severe stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or rectal bleeding. The site of pain is sometimes the lower right abdomen and may appear to be appendicitis. Attacks can also be accompanied by high fever. Self-treatments include applying heating pads to the abdomen. During attacks, bedrest is strongly recommended. Eating a low-residue diet rich in vitamins and minerals may help symptoms. It is believed that gradually introducing small amounts of fiber to the diet between attacks also has a positive effect. For those suffering from food allergies or lactose intolerance, omit whole grains, milk, eggs and other foods which might be suspect. Foods that might cause diarrhea are to be avoided and alcohol consumption is strongly discouraged.

If temperature reaches over 101 degrees or blood is found in the stools, seek assistance from a physician immediately. Doctors may prescribe antibiotics to treat any abscesses or infections. The most commonly prescribed drug to relieve symptoms is Prednisone, which may be used in conjunction with pain relievers, vitamin supplements and anti-inflamatory medications. In severe cases, a small bowel biopsy, endoscopy, sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy may be taken to ascertain the necessity for surgery. After surgery, many symptoms can significantly decrease although recurrence is common. The risk of bowel or colorectal cancers is increased for sufferers of Crohn's Disease.



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