What causes Crohn’s Disease?
The cause of Crohn’s Disease remains unknown. Several suggested factors have been implicated. These include:
- Genetic or hereditary factors.
- Factors related to the immune system, where the body falsely attacks the digestive system while trying to clear an infection caused by a virus or bacteria.
When should a Crohn’s Disease patient seek medical attention?
If you have Crohn’s Disease and develop any of the following symptoms you should seek medical attention at the earliest:
- Persistent abdominal aches and cramps.
- Blood in the stools.
- Continuous diarrhea for a week not responding to usual over-the-counter medications.
- Unexplained weight loss or a child who is not growing as would be expected.
- Unexplained fever lasting for more than 2 days.
Diagnosis of Crohn’s Disease:
Crohn’s Disease is often difficult to diagnose as it has symptoms similar to several other diseases. There is no single test to diagnose Crohn’s Disease.
Tools used for the diagnosis of Crohn’s Disease include:
- Detailed history taking and a thorough physical examination.
- Blood tests for anemia or infections.
- Looking for hidden (occult) blood in a stool sample.
- Colonoscopy with or without a biopsy. During a colonoscopy a thin, flexible tube with a camera at its end is introduced through the anus to look at your bowels for evidence of Crohn’s Disease.
- MRI or CT scan of the abdomen after drinking a special drink to properly visualize the bowel.
Complications of Crohn’s Disease
Crohn’s Disease may lead to the following complications:
- Obstruction of the digestive tract due to scarring and narrowing of the bowel. This may require surgery.
- Ulcers in the mouth, near the anus or around the genitals.
- Anal fissure: which is a small tear in the tissue lining the anus or the skin surrounding it. This is usually very painful.
- Malnutrition due to diarrhea and abdominal pain which make it difficult to eat properly and adequately.
- Cancer of the colon: those with Crohn’s Disease carry a greater risk compared to those without.
- Fistulas: these occur when ulcers extended all the way through the wall of the intestines. They may open in the skin (commonly around the anus) or may open into other organs which is life-threatening once infected and if left untreated.
- Anemia, osteoporosis, arthritis, liver and gall bladder Disease.
Treatment of Crohn’s Disease:
There is no definite cure for Crohn’s Disease. However, treatment can help reduce and control symptoms to a great extent. Treatment usually targets the following:
- Reducing inflammation of the digestive system: by medications such as steroid tablets. These usually start to work in a few days or weeks.
- Preventing reoccurrence of inflammation: by medications in tablet or injection forms.
- Reducing activity of the immune system by medications called immunosuppressants. These are used with steroids to reduce symptoms and are also effective during remissions to stop symptoms from coming back. They are usually taken for months or years in tablet or injection forms.
- Liquid diets, whether orally or by intravenous hydration such as that provided at Vida-Flo, reduce symptoms.
- Surgery may be required to remove affected parts of the digestive system (resection). This option may be better than medications in some patients. Surgery will prevent symptoms from coming back for a while, however, symptoms will eventually come back.
Intravenous hydration and liquid diets for Crohn’s Disease:
Liquid diets, also called enteral nutrition, can significantly reduce symptoms for patients with Crohn’s Disease. This may involve using special drinks for a few weeks that contain all the nutrients a person requires instead of consuming a regular diet. Such drinks have few side effects, such as nausea from consuming large volumes of fluids, diarrhea or constipation. IV hydration is another treatment option for patients with Crohn’s Disease. IV hydration administered at Vida-Flo not only provides the necessary hydration a person with Crohn’s Disease needs, but also provides nutrients, vitamins, and minerals required during those periods when the patient can’t handle a regular diet.
IV hydration at Vida-Flo provides large volumes of fluids intravenously which ensures 100% absorption. Additionally, specially formulated formulas at Vida-Flo for Crohn’s Disease may contain Toradol, a safe and effective medication to treat abdominal aches and pain associated with the Disease.
Complications of treatment:
Certain medications for Crohn’s Disease may cause complications on the long run:
- Steroids can cause weight gain, indigestion, insomnia, osteoporosis, cataract, diabetes, and hypertension.
- Medications that act on the immune system may increase susceptibility to infections and carry a small risk of causing lymphoma or skin cancer.
Support for Crohn’s Disease patients:
Living with Crohn’s Disease can be difficult at times. Symptom flare-ups are unpredictable and may interfere with daily activities such as school, work or social life. It is advisable to self-educate and to educate your friends and family members about the Disease to get the support you need.
Nationwide local support groups are available to help. Sharing experiences with other people suffering from Crohn’s Disease and getting more information about it is very helpful and recommended for both the physical and emotional toll of Crohn’s Disease.