Disease Part 1
Crohn’s disease is one of the two main forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The second main form of inflammatory bowel disease is ulcerative colitis. Crohn’s disease causes inflammation (irritation, redness, swelling and pain) of the digestive system.
The exact cause is unknown; it is thought to be due to an immune response to perhaps the likes of bacteria or stress. There is currently no cure for Crohn’s but medication and sometimes surgery can give long periods of relief.
Crohn’s disease ranges from very few symptoms to frequent flare-ups or constant disease. The most common symptoms during a flare-up are:
Abdominal pain and diarrhoea. Sometimes mucus, pus or blood is mixed with the diarrhoea.
Tiredness and fatigue. This can be due to the illness itself, from the weight loss associated with flare-ups or surgery, anaemia from blood loss or simply due to a lack of sleep resulting from symptoms likes pain and diarrhoea
Feeling generally unwell. Some people may have a raised temperature and feel feverish.
Loss of appetite and weight loss.
Anaemia (a reduced level of red blood cells). Crohn’s makes anaemia more likely due to blood loss, not eating enough because of symptoms like pain and diarrhoea and because the body is not fully absorbing the nutrients from the food.
Main types of Crohn’s disease
Crohn’s is often categorised to which part of the intestinal tract is most affected. The main types are:
Terminal ileal and ileocaecal
If it affects the beginning of the large bowel it is known as ileocaecal Crohn’s in which pain is often experienced in the lower right side of the abdomen, especially after eating. There is often weight loss and diarrhoea. Because Crohn’s in the ileum can make it difficult for the body to absorb bile salts, bile salts can build up leading to irritation the bowel lining; Diarrhoea often occurs and is most likely to be watery. The diarrhoea is unlikely to be bloody, as any blood lost will be digested by the time it reaches the rectum.
Abdominal pain and diarrhoea are also common symptoms if Crohn’s occurs further up the small bowel. Again, the diarrhoea is unlikely to be blood stained, but weight loss and anaemia may be experienced.
Crohn’s disease in the colon (large intestine or large bowel) is known as ‘Crohn’s colitis’. This is a common form of Crohn’s disease. The main symptom tends to be blood stained diarrhoea.
Crohn’s in the upper intestinal tract (the oesophagus, stomach or duodenum) is much less common. Symptoms that indicate Crohn’s in the upper intestinal tract include indigestion-like pain, nausea, loss of appetite, and weight loss.
Crohn’s in the area around the anus can occur on its own or at the same time as inflammation in other parts of the body.
To be continued…next week
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