The exact cause for Crohns disease is as yet unknown, though it was suspected to be caused by stress and diet in the past. Now doctors are aware that these factors can exacerbate Crohns disease, but they are not the underlying cause. Researchers now believe that there are a number of factors which play a role in the disease development including malfunctions in the immune system and heredity. There are a number of potential risk factors for Crohns disease development. These risk factors may include: ethnicity, age, family history, smoking and where the person lives. Crohns disease is capable of affecting anyone, but people under the age of 30, Caucasians and smokers or individuals who live in urban areas are most likely to develop this disease.
There are a number of serious complications associated with Crohns disease when it isnt treated properly by a medical professional. Bowel obstructions, ulcers, fistulas, anal fissures, colon cancer, malnutrition and other serious health problems can occur. Fistulas and anal fissures can lead to serious issues that can be life threatening. It can also lead to inflammation, kidney stones, bile duct inflammation, ulcers, arthritis, fingernail clubbing and other health complications. Getting help from a medical professional is essential in preventing exacerbations, which can lead to serious complications.
The inflammation associated with Crohns disease can affect different parts of the body depending on the person. For example, one person may only experience inflammation in the colon while others may experience it in the ileum or small intestine and the colon, the bowel wall and other parts of the digestive system. Symptoms of Crohns disease can include: abdominal pain, abdominal cramping, diarrhea, bloody stool, ulcers, weight loss and reduction in appetite. They can range from irritating to severe and can even be debilitating for some patients. Other symptoms that are experienced by people with severe levels of the disease include: inflammation of the bile ducts or liver, mouth sores, skin disorders, eye inflammation, fatigue, arthritis and fever.
Crohns disease is a diagnosis that is reached by ruling out other potential causes of the aforementioned symptoms. The doctor will want to rule out diverticulitis, colon cancer and irritable bowel syndrome before diagnosing it. Tests used to diagnose Crohns may include: flexible sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy, blood tests, computerized tomography or CT scan, magnetic resonance imagining or MRI, capsule endoscopy, double balloon endoscopy, imaging of the small bowel and barium enema.
While there is no cure for Crohns disease, there are treatment options to consider. There is no single one-size-fits-all solution to treatments, so experimenting with different options is the best way to find a solution that works. Anti-inflammatory drugs such as Mesalamine, Sulfasalazine and Corticosteroids are often prescribed for the disease. Immune system suppressors such as Azathioprine, Infliximab and Mercaptopurine are used to reduce inflammation by targeting the immune system rather than the inflammation itself. Antibiotics, anti-diarrheals, laxatives, pain relievers, iron supplements, nutritional changes and vitamin B-12 shots may also be recommended depending on the individual patient.