What is Crohn’s Disease?

If you’ve just been diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, or even if you’ve had it for years, you would likely be wondering what it is and what it means for you.

Crohn’s Disease (CD) is a form of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) that causes inflammation of your digestive tract. It can affect any part of the digestive tract, from the mouth to the anus, and often spreads into the deeper layers of the bowel. It happens when parts or all the lining of these areas becomes inflamed. This is usually a response to something foreign (such as an infection). However in CD, the body recognizes the bowel as foreign, and the inflammation continues, which can lead to ongoing damage to the colon.

Doctors still aren’t sure exactly what causes CD, but genetics, other immune disorders and environmental factors may all increase the risk.

CD can occur at any age, but is commonly diagnosed between the ages of 15-30 with a second peak at the ages of 50-60.

Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease

Common symptoms of Crohn’s Disease include:

Abdominal pain
Diarrhoea
Bloody stool
Cramping
Fatigue
Weight loss
Loss of appetite
Fever
Malnutrition
Perianal fistulae
Nausea and vomiting

The severity of symptoms will vary over time, and in each person. A person can experience flare ups and periods of remission.

How is Crohn’s diagnosed?

There are several tests that can be used in the diagnosis of Crohn’s Disease. A combination of the following may be used:

Blood tests
Stool studies, including faecal calprotectin
Colonoscopy and biopsy
CT scans
MRI
Capsule endoscopy
Ultrasound

Your doctor will use the results of these tests to determine whether you have Crohn’s or not.

How is Crohn’s Disease treated?

Treatment has come a long way in the last few decades, however there is no current cure. The course of treatment your doctor recommends will depend on the severity of the disease in each person, and often include a combination of:

Aminosalicylates
Corticosteriods
Immunomodulators
Antibiotics
Surgery

If you have concerns about suffering from Crohn’s or questions about your diagnosis, please feel free to contact the friendly team at IBD SA.