Inflammatory Bowel Disease – A medical condition when the large bowel (large intestine) or small bowels (small intestines) gets inflamed due to various reasons. Crohn’s disease is one such Inflammatory Bowel Disease that causes inflammation of the digestive tract. The areas affected by this disease can vary from person to person and it can often spread into the deeper layers of the intestines. Also, the affected areas can be limited only to the large colon (intestine) or also present in both small and large intestines. The area can be segmented here and there or can also be continuous.
There is no straight forward treatment or cure for the problem. Currently available treatments are only to reduce the symptoms and get them under control.
Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease:
Typically, symptoms can develop with time and in very few cases, they may see sudden onset of symptoms. Symptoms of Crohn’s disease include:
- Severe diarrhea
- Weight loss
- Abdominal pain and cramps
- Pains due to fistula – fistulas are tunnels that form from the inner lining of the anus that typically end at around the opening of the anus.
- Blood in stools
- Mouth sores
Severe symptoms may be seen in some patients suffering from Crohn’s Disease. They include:
- Inflammation of liver or bile ducts
- Inflammation of skin, eyes and joints
- Kidney stones
- Anemia due to Iron deficiency
- If Crohn’s disease affects children, there may be a delay in development of their sexual organs.
Causes of Crohn’s disease
Initially, diet and stress were thought to be the causes of Crohn’s disease but later it was found that they only aggravate the condition but don’t actually cause it. Exact causes of Crohn’s disease are not known till date but autoimmune response and heredity are expected to trigger the condition.
- Improper functioning of Immune system – There is a lot of gut bacteria present in every individual. Inflammation occurs when the immune system mistakes the good bacteria to be bad and attacks it.
- Heredity is also a suspected reason but there is no concrete evidence for this assumption because after studying people with Crohn’s disease, it was found that no others in their family had the issue before.
Complications caused by Crohn’s disease
- Bowel Obstruction – Crohn’s disease can cause inflammation of entire wall of the intestines. This eventually scars and narrows the bowel. Movement of digested food through the narrow bowels become difficult. In such cases, surgery will be needed to remove the affected portions of the intestines.
- Ulcers – Long term inflammation can cause open sores anywhere in the digestive tract including mouth, anus or the perineum.
- Fistulas – When ulcers extend through the intestinal walls that forms a fistula. In general, a fistula is a tunnel which opens in one area and ends in a different area. Fistulas can start from the intestines and end up on the skin or they can run between intestines or other organs. Common types of fistulas open up in the inner lining of the anus and end up (open up) at around the anus on the skin. Fistula treatment needs a surgery.
- Fissures (Anal Fissures) – Anal fissures are small tears on the inner lining of the anus or in the skin around the anus. This happens when the stools are hard and find it difficult to move out of the body.
- Malnutrition – Due to Diarrhoea, abdominal pain, inflammation you will not be able to eat food like you used to when you were healthy. Also, the nutrient absorbing capacity of the intestines goes down with the onset of inflammation.
- Colon Cancer – Crohn’s disease increases the risk of colon cancer.
- Blood Clots – Crohn’s disease increases the risk of blood clots in veins and arteries.