Crohn’s disease is a type of chronic inflammatory bowel disease where the body produces an immune response that incorrectly attacks the digestive tract. The wall of the tract then becomes thickened, inflamed and damaged.
What does ‘Chronic’ mean?
A chronic disease, such as crohn’s, means that the disease can be problematic for a few years but there may also be periods of good health. Crohn’s disease often follows this pattern of relapsing. Unfortunately it is difficult to predict when a flare up is going to occur.
What are the Symptoms of Crohn’s?
- Stomach pain
- Diarrhoea and/or constipation
- Unexplained weight loss
- Skin rashes
- Eye inflammation
- Abnormal pain
- Bleeding from the bowel
- Urgent need to move bowels
- Sensation of incomplete bowel movement
How is Crohn’s Diagnosed?
Symptoms might lead to the suspicion of crohn’s disease, especially if they last for weeks or months.
An examination of the stomach may find a lump where the bowel is inflamed.
The bottom (anus and rectum) may be examined and a small sample might be taken from the lining of the rectum.
To give a conclusive diagnosis a Sigmoidoscopy or Colonoscopy would be done and samples taken.
Is Crohn’s Hereditary?
Yes, if you have the disorder there is a 10-25% chance that a close relative will also have it, but the chance of passing it to your children is as low as 1-2%.
If I have Crohn’s what is the Treatment?
Unfortunately no cure is known for crohn’s. However medicines can be successfully used to manage flare-ups and surgery can help with severe inflammation.
Lifestyle changes, such as exercise and a healthy diet, as well as over-the-counter anti-diarrhoea medication and prescription anti-inflammatory medication, can also help to reduce the symptoms.