There is no known cure for Crohn’s disease, but it can be controlled with medicines and surgery. In addition, some medications can put you in remission, which means you have no signs or symptoms of the disease.
Corticosteroids and immunomodulators reduce inflammation by suppressing your immune system, lowering flares, and helping you stay in remission.
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The first step in diagnosing Crohn’s disease is to determine the exact location of the inflammation. It is done with a physical exam, x-rays, and other tests.
In addition, your doctor will inquire about your symptoms and medical history. These will help them decide what type of treatment is best for them.
When a gastrointestinal (GI) tract is inflamed, it can cause symptoms such as abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, weight loss, and fatigue. It is called inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
IBD can affect any region of the digestive system, including your mouth and anus. The main types of IBD are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
Gastroduodenal Crohn’s disease mainly affects the stomach and the beginning of the small intestine, or duodenum. The condition is less common than the other variations of Crohn’s disease.
Jejunoileitis is the second most common variation of Crohn’s disease, affecting the upper portion of the small intestine, or jejunum. It can cause spots of inflammation, abdominal cramping after meals, fistulas, or an inflammatory abscess in more severe cases.
Inflammation from Crohn’s can go through the wall of your intestines, creating tunnels or fistulas that can connect to your bloodstream or other parts of your body. Fistulas can lead to infection and may need to be treated with antibiotics. They can also cause abscesses, which are painful, swollen, pus-filled pockets of infection.
Crohn’s disease can cause several different symptoms. People often experience bloating, diarrhea, abdominal pain and cramping, weight loss, fatigue, mouth ulcers (canker sores), and skin tags.
These symptoms can come and go over time, with periods of flare-ups or remission. They vary from person to person and can be mild to severe.
Diarrhea may be watery or bloody and range from mild to severe. You can have it whenever you feel a bowel movement is needed, even when the bowels are empty.
You can feel exhausted, and you might have a fever. It can also lead to losing appetite, resulting in weight loss.
Abdominal pain is caused by inflammation of the stomach and intestines. It can occur in the lower right side of the abdomen and can be swollen or tender.
Rectal bleeding can be painful and could be caused by small tears in the anus (back passage). A perianal fistula (an abnormal connection that connects the bowel to the vagina, bladder, or skin) can also form due to the disease.
Some people with Crohn’s have joint inflammation that starts in one or more joints but then moves to another. It’s called migratory joint inflammation, common in patients with colon or intestinal Crohn’s disease.
There are many treatment options available for Crohn’s disease. Your doctor can recommend a combination of medications, natural treatments, and behavioral changes to help manage your symptoms.
Corticosteroids (also known as steroids) These drugs can be very effective at reducing inflammation and bringing you to remission. However, they can also cause serious side effects and shouldn’t be used for long periods.
A group of drugs called immunosuppressants, or “immunomodulators,” can help control the inflammatory response to Crohn’s. They’re often used with corticosteroids to treat severe flares and maintain remission.
Azathioprine and mercaptopurine suppress the immune system, making it less likely to trigger an inflammatory response. As a result, they’re the most commonly prescribed immunosuppressants for people with inflammatory bowel disease.
Methotrexate is often used with other medications to control relapses or when people have trouble responding to other medicines. It can also reduce the amount of inflammation in your liver and blood vessels.
If medication fails to control the symptoms of Crohn’s disease, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove part of the intestines. This operation involves removing the diseased area and reconnecting healthy regions of the intestine.
Crohn’s disease is caused by an abnormal immune reaction that causes inflammation in the digestive tract. It is also called inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Experts don’t know what causes Crohn’s, but genetics and a faulty immune system may play a part. People with a family history of Crohn’s are at an increased risk. In addition, smoking can double your risk of developing the condition.
Your age and ethnicity can also affect your chances of getting the disease. Whites are at the highest risk but it can occur in any group.
Treatment for Crohn’s depends on your individual symptoms and health history. Your doctor will prescribe a combination of medications to help control your symptoms.
Anti-inflammatory medicines, such as corticosteroids and immunomodulators, can ease the inflammation caused by Crohn’s. However, they are usually used for a short time to get the inflammation under control, and they are gradually stopped.
If your symptoms don’t improve with other medicines, your doctor may recommend surgery to fix the problem. It will not cure the disease, but it can help you feel better and prevent complications from happening in the future.
A well-balanced diet helps to reduce inflammation and keep your intestines healthy. Talk to your doctor about a diet that suits your needs.
Be sure to tell your provider about any new medication or treatment. Ask about side effects and how the medicine will affect you.