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A Brief Overview Of Crohn's Disease

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By Kirsten Whittaker

Crohn’s Disease is an inflammatory bowel disease that causes inflammation in the digestive tract - from the mouth all the way through to the anus. As a disease, it can be difficult to diagnose due to its similarity to other inflammatory disorders such as ulcerative colitis or irritable bowel syndrome. Crohn’s Disease usually causes inflammation in the lower small intestine, known as the ileum. The inflammation goes deep into the wall of the intestine causing pain and diarrhea.

It is not known what causes Crohn’s disease, although it is thought that it may be heredity in nature or the result of a virus or bacterium invading the body. To date no definitive answer has been provided. It effects both males and females and people suffering with this disease also tend to have immune system abnormalities, although whether this is a cause or a result of the disease is unknown. One thing that has been established is that Crohn’s Disease is not caused by stress, although emotional distress can exacerbate the symptoms.

Symptoms most commonly experienced by sufferers are severe abdominal pain, accompanied by diarrhea. Some also report bleeding from the rectum, weight loss and fevers. Children who suffer with Crohn’s may experience some developmental and growth delays due to the lack of essential vitamins and minerals absorbed into the body.

Due to it’s similarity to other inflammatory diseases and syndromes determining if a patient is actually suffering with Crohn’s disease requires a thorough physical exam and a number of tests to be carried out. These can include blood tests to check for anemia and providing stool samples to check for blood which could indicate an infection or bleeding in the intestines. Further, more invasive tests can also be required, for example drinking a barium liquid and having a series of x-rays taken which will highlight any inflammation or abnormalities. A colonoscopy may be required to confirm the diagnosis as Crohn’s disease. In this case an endoscope is inserted into the anus and up into the large intestine to look for bleeding or inflammation. A small sample of tissue may be taken at this point for further analysis. Once Crohn’s disease has been confirmed further tests may be needed to determine the extent of the inflammation.

There is no actual cure for Crohn’s disease, although some people, through proper management, can be free of symptoms for extended periods. The treatment for Crohn’s disease varies from person to person as it depends on the severity of the disease and the area effected. Typically, all treatments aim to reduce the inflammation, relieve the pain, diarrhea and bleeding and ensure that the sufferer has the correct nutritional intake. There are three main ways of achieving these goals, medication, surgery or dietary changes.

About The Author: Kirsten Whittaker has an interest in Crohn’s Disease. To access more articles on Crohn’s Disease click on the following link – www.crohnsdiseaseguide.info/crohnsdisease-articles/ or for additional crohn’s information and resources go here - www.crohnsdiseaseguide.info