By Dr. Hardik Thakker, Internal Medicine
Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which affects your body’s digestive tract. Over the course of time, the inflammation can spread further into the layers of the bowel tissue, leading to life-threatening complications. Usually, this condition affects the small intestine and the colon.
Causes of Crohn’s disease
The actual causes leading to Crohn’s disease are not known. Doctors suggest that one’s immune system and genetics play a vital role in triggering this inflammatory condition.
• Poor immunity - It is possible that a bacterium or virus sets off Crohn’s disease. In response, your immune system tries to fight off the invading virus and mistakenly ends up attacking the cells of the digestive tract. This leads to inflammation of the same.
• Genetics - People who have a family history of Crohn’s disease are prone to this condition.
In addition to these, a few environmental factors are responsible for aggravating Crohn’s disease in a person. These factors include- smoking, poor diet, stress, intake of certain drugs and medications, etc.
The early signs of Crohn’s disease include the following-
• Abdominal pain
• Weight loss
• Reduced appetite
• Mouth sores
• Fatigue and anaemia
• High fever that persists longer than usual
• Inflammation of eyes and the skin
• Inflammation of the joints
• Inflammation of liver/bile duct
• Drainage near/around the anus
• Delayed development and growth in children
• Blood in the stool
Crohn’s disease can be lifelong or last for years. You should definitely watch out for the symptoms mentioned above and get yourself diagnosed if needed.
Treatment of Crohn’s disease
There is no cure for Crohn’s disease. However, doctors prescribe certain medications such as the following to slow down the progression of the disease-
• Anti-inflammatory drugs - Corticosteroids are used to reduce the inflammation of the different parts and organs of your body. These are prescribed for a short span of time (like 3-4months) to ease the symptoms of Crohn’s disease or are given along with an immune system suppressor.
• Immune system suppressor - These drugs reduce inflammation by targeting the immune system, which is responsible for triggering the inflammation. The most widely used immune system suppressors are Azathioprine, Infliximab, and Natalizumab etc.
• Antibiotics - Antibiotics are used to reduce the amount of drainage near the anus in people suffering from Crohn’s disease.
• Pain relievers - Pain relievers/painkillers are prescribed to ease and manage the pain that accompanies the disease.
Apart from these, your doctor may recommend you a balanced diet, which includes lots of nutritional benefits. For instance, eating a low-fat food, dairy-free food, drinking adequate water/liquid can help the bowel to rest.
Crohn’s disease is common in adults, usually aged between 19 and 40 years. Consulting a physician at the earliest can help you manage the disease and prevent the progression of the same.