What Is Crohn’s Disease and Do I Have It?
If you are asking the question, what is Crohn’s disease, you may already be experiencing some undesirable symptoms such as abdominal pain and diarrhea. To fully determine what Crohn’s disease is and if you have the disease, you will need to take a look at the bigger picture of Crohns.
Crohn’s disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease and its symptoms are similar to ulcerative colitis (UC). The similarity of symptoms can make diagnosis difficult and your doctor will typically need to perform blood tests or visual tests of your intestines (e.g. signoidoscopy, colonoscopy, endoscopy) to form a proper diagnosis.
The main difference between Crohns and its close counterpart UC is that Crohns can affect any area of your digestive tract from your mouth to your anus. UC only affects your colon and rectum.
Even though Crohns can affect any part of your GI tract, the most common area affected is the last section of you small intestine, an area called your ileum.
The first sign that you have the disease will be in identifying the symptoms. The most common symptoms of Crohn’s disease are:
- Pain or cramping in your abdomen
- General ill-feeling or nausea
- Weight loss without trying
- Poor appetite or loss of desire to eat
These symptoms tend to come and go in periods of flare-ups followed by symptom free periods of remission.
Other symptoms that may be present, but are not seen in everyone with Crohns include:
- Bloody stool
- Skin rash or other skin problems
- Joint pain or arthritis
- Mouth ulcers
What is Crohn’s Disease in Children?
The most common ages for the onset of this digestive problem are between the ages of 15 and 35, but younger children can be affected. The condition can be difficult to diagnose but symptom will be similar to those experienced by an older person.
Children with Crohn’s disease may experience delays in their growth and may develop more slowly than other children their age.
What is Crohn’s Disease Caused By?
To further evaluate if you have this digestive disease, you may gain some insights if you possess one of the known risk factors. Your risk increases if another member of your family suffers from the disorder, if you smoke, or if you come from Jewish descent.
Beyond the known risk factors, there little understood about why Crohn’s disease develops in some people and not in others. Some believe there are ties to a bacterial infection. However, the most widely supported theory is that Crohns is an autoimmune disorder.
In autoimmune disorders, your body’s immune system mistakenly attacks your normal healthy tissues. In the case of Crohn’s disease, your immune system may attack your healthy intestinal tissue or attack normally occurring bacteria that live in your intestines. This can lead to the common symptoms of diarrhea and abdominal pain but can also lead to other complications such as ulcers in the intestinal wall or other damage to your digestive tract.
To answer the question, what is Crohn’s disease, it is enough to understand that it is a chronic inflammatory condition that affects your intestines. To determine if you have Crohn’s disease you must first recognize the symptoms (i.e. periods of diarrhea and abdominal pain), see if you have any of the risk factors, and see your doctor who can perform tests to confirm your diagnosis.
Source by Dr. Becky Gillaspy