What is Crohn’s Disease?
The National Institute of Health defines Crohn's disease as a chronic, or long lasting, disease that causes inflammation—irritation or swelling—in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The GI tract consists of all structures between the mouth and anus functioning the consumption and digestion of food. Crohn’s disease typically affects the end of the small intestine and the beginning of the large intestine, but it is not limited to those areas in the GI tract.
Crohn’s disease is reported to affect as many as 700,000 in the United States. In those with Crohn’s disease, their immune system reacts to bacteria in their GI tract by trying to attack and kill the bacteria. During the course of this immune reaction, bacteria are mistaken for harmful invaders and the immune system mounts a response. Cells from the blood will travel to the intestines and produce inflammation (a normal immune system response). However, the inflammation does not subside, leading to chronic inflammation, ulceration, thickening of the intestinal wall, and eventually causing mild to severe symptoms.
What are the Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease?
Crohn’s disease symptoms are often similar to other conditions and vary from patient to patient. These symptoms are dictated by the part of the GI tract that is affected and can range from mild to severe and tend to vary in frequency. The most common symptoms of Crohn’s disease are:
- Abdominal pain
- Blood in stools
- Poor appetite
- Weight loss
What is the Cause of Crohn’s Disease?
While we don’t know for sure what causes Crohn’s disease it is likely a combination of environmental, immunologic, bacterial factors and a genetic component. The disease equally affects both men and women and has a prevalence amongst young adults ages 15-35.
How is Crohn’s Disease Diagnosed in Plano, TX?
The symptoms of Crohn’s Disease can often mimic those of many other medical conditions. Your Plano gastroenterologist will first perform a detailed history and physical exam. Further tests or procedures to make the correct diagnosis may include
- Blood tests
- Stool studies
- X-ray studies like CT scans or MRIs
- Capsule Endoscopy
What are the Treatment Options for Crohn’s Disease in Plano, TX?
The goal of treatment is to reduce symptoms and improve quality of life. Another important goal is to achieve complete healing of the inflammation of the lining of the intestine to avoid complications like fissures, fistulas, ulcers and cancer.
Several different classes of medications are used for the treatment of Crohn’s disease. Sometimes medications from different drug classes may have to be used. Some of the medications used include:
- Mesalamines / Anti-Inflammatories (Pentasa, Asacol, Apriso, Lialda)
- Immunomodulator therapy (Azathioprine, 6-MP, methotrexate)
- Anti-tumor necrosis factor therapy (Remicade, Humira, Cimzia, Simponi)
- Integrin Receptor Antagonist (Entyvio, Tysabri)
- Pain Relievers
- Iron/Calcium/Vitamin Supplements
Sometimes if drug therapy alone no longer controls symptoms, Dr. Malik may recommend a surgical evaluation to remove damaged parts of the digestive tract or to repair fissures, fistulas, and intestinal abscesses.
Disclaimer: The information presented on this website is not intended to take the place of your personal physician’s advice and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Discuss this information with your healthcare provider to determine what is right for you. All information is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical condition