What is Crohn’s Disease?
Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes swelling, inflammation, and irritation in the digestive tract. Symptoms commonly include pain and cramping in the abdomen, frequent need for bowel movements, diarrhea, rectal bleeding, weight loss, fatigue, fever, night sweats, loss of appetite, and potential loss of normal menstrual cycles. The physicians at Gastroenterology of Westchester are able to diagnose and help patients treat Crohn’s disease to help mitigate some of the symptoms associated with the condition.
What Causes Crohn’s Disease?
The exact cause of Crohn’s disease is currently unknown, with some experts believing that it is the result of an abnormal reaction of patients’ immune systems. Currently there are a few factors doctors believe may influence one’s chances of developing Crohn’s disease over time. For example, people are believed to be at a higher risk of developing Crohn’s disease if they have a close family member with the condition, smoke, take certain medications, or frequently consume a diet that is high in fats. Certain factors may also impact the severity of patients’ symptoms.
How is Crohn’s Disease Diagnosed and Treated?
The doctors at Gastroenterology of Westchester utilize a combination of methods to diagnose Crohn’s disease as well as help patients manage their symptoms. Crohn’s disease can be diagnosed through a variety of methods such as a blood test, stool test, colonoscopy, computed tomography (CT) scan, upper gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy, or upper gastrointestinal (GI) exam. Because there is no single test to identify Crohn’s disease, your physician will likely schedule several different types to rule out any of the other potential causes for your gastrointestinal symptoms.
After Crohn’s disease is diagnosed, the goal of treatment to reduce inflammation so that patients can experience relief, prevent symptom flare-ups, and keep the condition at bay and in remission. Medications may be prescribed to suppress the immune system and control the inflammation responsible for symptoms. These medications may include anti-inflammatory drugs, immune system suppressors, biologics, antibiotics, anti-diarrheals, pain relievers, or vitamins/ supplements. In some cases, patients may require surgery to repair some of the effects that Crohn’s disease has on the gastrointestinal tract and bring relief for symptoms. Crohn’s disease is not known to be caused by certain foods; however, a physician may recommend avoiding foods that may worsen potential symptoms while receiving nutrients to best function and promote healing.
Being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease can be a stressful experience, but the physicians at Gastroenterology of Westchester are experts at helping patients manage symptoms and live lives that are not defined by their condition. In addition to medication and potential surgery, your physician may recommend lifestyle changes such as systems for stress management, quitting smoking, avoiding NSAIDs, and an elimination diet that cuts back on foods known to be triggers for symptoms.