Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease—two forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)—affect 1.4 million people in the United States alone. Despite the prevalence of these diseases, very little about their causes, symptoms, or treatment options—especially pertaining to Crohn’s disease— is public knowledge, so we’ve broken down four commonly asked questions regarding Crohn’s disease.
Let’s get started.
What are the symptoms of Crohn’s disease?
- Persistent Diarrhea
- Rectal bleeding
- Urgent need to move bowels
- Abdominal cramps and pain
- Sensation of incomplete evacuation
- Constipation (can lead to bowel obstruction)
General symptoms that may also be associated with IBD:
- Loss of appetite
- Weight Loss
- Night sweats
- Loss of normal menstrual cycle
What causes Crohn’s disease?
While there are several theories as to the cause of Crohn’s disease, none have been proven yet. However, scientists theorize that Crohn’s disease is caused by a combination of the following factors:
- Immune system problems
- Environmental factors
People with Crohn’s disease generally have immune systems that react problematically, which is why Crohn’s is generally considered an autoimmune disease. The immune system may mistakenly defend the body against healthy gut microbes or may continue to defend the body once the invasive microbes have been eradicated. The inflammatory defense response can become chronic and result in ulcers or other intestinal injuries.
How many people in the United States have Crohn’s disease?
According to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA), approximately 700,000 Americans have diagnosed cases of Crohn’s disease. Crohn’s—along with other Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBDs)—is diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 30.
Is there a cure?
There is currently no cure for Crohn’s disease. However, with the proper care, you and your gastroenterologist can create a treatment plan to manage your symptoms and prevent flare-ups. Commonly, Crohn’s is treated with medication. While complications may occur and surgery is a possibility, we have good treatment options now that help to keep the disease in check and prevent long term complications. Once the disease is controlled with medications, you can lead a normal life again. It is important to have early diagnosis, appropriate treatment and follow-up is essential, along with compliance with a treatment regimen.
If you or a loved one is living with Crohn’s, consult with your gastroenterologist today and ensure that you’re properly managing your symptoms.