The Best Ways to Manage Various Types of Crohn’s Disease
Dr. Nikhil Eric Saldanha
July 10, 2022
Dr. Nikhil Eric Saldanha
July 10, 2022
Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease. It causes chronic inflammation of the digestive tract. As per a report, it is the most prevalent in Germany and Canada. It affects about 322 out of every 100,000 people in Germany. Whereas in Canada, 319 out of every 100,000 are suffering from it. Crohn’s disease can occur in any part from the mouth to the anus. It appears in patches and can penetrate up to multiple layers in the digestive tract. It is an immune-related disease and most commonly affects the small intestine and the beginning part of the large intestine. There are five types of Crohn’s disease, classified according to the area affected.
A person may suffer from one or more types of Crohn’s disease. Its treatment varies with the type and severity of the disease. Lifestyle changes, medications, and surgeries can help to manage it. However, research is still going on to find a complete cure. Crohn’s disease follows a cycle of remission and relapse, where symptoms are controlled and flare at other times. As a result, it is essential to know all about it.
There are five types of Crohn’s disease. Each has its unique symptoms, which are as follows.
Ileocolitis is the most common form of Crohn’s disease. It affects the end of the small intestine, known as the terminal ileum, and the large intestine, also called the colon. Around 50% of people with Crohn’s disease are diagnosed with ileocolitis. It is a life-long chronic condition.
It affects the final part of the small intestine, known as the ileum. It plays an essential role in absorbing vitamin B12 and salts. In severe cases, ileitis may lead to fistulas in the lower right side of the abdomen. Many conditions can cause ileitis, Crohn’s disease being the most common.
It affects the stomach and the initial part of the small intestine called the duodenum. Gastroduodenal Crohn’s disease is not common – only up to around 5% of people with Crohn’s disease have the condition.
Jejunoileitis causes inflammation in the jejunum (the upper half of the small intestine). It is relatively uncommon and majorly affects the children.
The word ‘colitis’ means inflammation of the colon lining. Crohn’s Colitis affects the colon part of the large intestine and accounts for around 20% of Crohn’s disease cases.
The longer you have Crohn’s disease, the more likely you will develop a fistula. About one in three people with Crohn’s disease will probably generate a fistula. When an ulcer extends entirely through the intestinal wall, it forms an abnormal passage between different body parts. Such a passage is called a fistula. It can form between skin and intestine or between the intestine and another organ. Perianal fistulas are most common.
An abscess is a pocket of pus caused by a bacterial infection. It can form in the intestinal wall, sometimes causing it to bulge out. Sometimes a fistula may become infected and form an abscess. It may be life-threatening if not treated.
Scar tissues are a result of long periods of inflammation. Strictures happen when scar tissue builds in the large or small intestine wall. Strictures can cause the colon to become blocked, either partially or entirely, disrupting the movement of food or stool through the intestines. As a result, it leads to constipation or obstipation (complete block of the intestine). It might require surgical intervention when severe to release the blockage.
Bowel cancer is colon or rectal cancer, depending on where the cancer starts. For example, there may be an increased risk of developing cancer if you have Crohn’s colitis. In addition, the risk increases with the length of time Crohn’s disease is present.
A report suggests that immune dysregulation could be a possible cause of Crohn’s disease. Here, a bacteria or virus triggers the immune response. The immune system attacks not just the invading microorganism but also cells in the digestive tract. It leads to the development of Crohn’s disease. Research is still going on to identify the trigger and other factors that contribute to the development of Crohn’s disease.
Crohn’s disease can occur at any age. However, a study suggests that 25% of patients get it by 20. Most patients get a diagnosis by the age of 30.
Research suggests that the prevalence of Crohn’s disease is highest in white people of Europe and North America. However, the cases of Crohn’s disease in African Americans and Asians have been steadily rising over the past decades.
People who have a first-degree relative, such as a parent, sibling, or child having Crohn’s disease, have a higher risk. As many as 20% of patients have close relatives suffering from it. Moreover, its risk becomes substantially higher if both parents suffer from it.
Research suggests that smoking increases the risk of Crohn’s disease by more than 200%. In addition, smoking worsens the condition and increases the likelihood of requiring surgery.
People in developed countries and urban cities have a higher risk of Crohn’s disease. It is also more common in northern climates than in southern climates.
People who consume high amounts of fat, omega-6 fatty acids, polyunsaturated fatty acids, and meat in their diet are at higher risk.
Consumption of oral contraceptive pills is associated with a higher risk of Crohn’s disease. In addition, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines can lead to bowel inflammation, triggering Crohn’s disease.
Crohn’s disease can be hard to diagnose due to its multiple types and similar conditions. A doctor will examine a person’s medical history and existing symptoms. Accordingly, he may prescribe several tests to identify the disease.
A patient needs to identify what triggers their flare-ups. It may vary from person to person. Also, it is ideal to consult a dietician as they can help ensure that a person gets sufficient nutrients while avoiding triggering foods. Moreover, it is essential to maintain a proper diet in remission too. Some dietary changes that may help improve symptoms are:
Crohn’s disease is a condition that affects the digestive tract. It causes inflammation and can even lead to erosion of digestive parts such as the intestines and bowel. It can vary from mild to severe. Also, it can become life-threatening if not treated on time. Environmental and genetic factors are significant contributors to its development. It can have periods of flare-ups and remission. Accordingly, a person may require modifications in their diets, treatments, etc. It adversely affects the quality of life, but several measures can improve this condition. Apart from medications and surgery, lifestyle and diet changes can also be helpful. But there is no complete cure. Moreover, the state may reoccur even several years after surgery.
A. Celiac and Crohn’s disease both cause inflammation of the intestine. They can have similar symptoms, including abdominal pain, diarrhoea, anaemia, etc. However, these are different conditions with varying complications. Crohn’s disease causes inflammation of the eyes, joints, and bloody stools. If a person is experiencing any symptoms, it is best to consult a doctor.
A. Crohn’s flare-up may vary from person to person. It can last from a couple of weeks to a few months. It usually causes more severe symptoms like severe diarrhoea, joint pain, abdominal pain, fever, etc. Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease, and inflammation can involve different areas of the digestive tract in other people.
A. Crohn’s disease can lead to bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine. As these bacteria break down food, they may produce gas. Thus, bloating and gas are common symptoms of this condition. A person with Crohn’s disease may feel a swollen tummy or bloated after a meal. Foods with high content of bran fibre may help in this.
A. Crohn’s is due to a dysfunctional immune system. Moreover, certain medications used in treatment, such as immunosuppressants, further weaken the immune system. Crohn’s disease makes the immune system attack healthy body cells due to abnormal regulation of white blood cells (WBC) in their body. The immune system’s strength also depends upon genetic factors, the severity of the disease, flare-ups, etc.
A. The simultaneous occurrence of lupus and Crohn’s is infrequent. However, some medications used to treat Crohn’s may lead to drug-induced lupus. Therefore, possibly Crohn’s disease may occur before or after diagnosis of lupus. However, Crohn’s disease presence after (systemic lupus erythematosus) SLE is very rare.
A. It is not advisable to consume alcohol with Crohn’s disease. Alcohol impacts the digestive system and may damage organs like the mouth, throat, oesophagus, or liver. However, a person may consume alcohol occasionally and within reasonable limits if it doesn’t affect their symptoms too much.
A. Crohn’s is a chronic disease that may or may not be progressive. Over time, the symptoms may worsen, lessen, or change. In addition, it depends on how your body responds to this disease and how strong your immune system is. Therefore, it is vital to take proper treatment and suitable measures to manage this condition.
A. If Crohn’s is left untreated, it can spread throughout the intestinal tract, worsening symptoms. It can lead to multiple complications, hospitalisation, decreased quality of work, etc. In addition, if Crohn’s in the large intestine is left untreated, it can cause colon cancer (in rare cases).
A. Alcohol, caffeinated beverages, carbonated beverages, high-fat foods, sugary foods, foods rich in insoluble fibre, corn, butter, mayonnaise, raw vegetables, red meat, pork, etc., are some foods that can act as a trigger. Especially carbonated beverages and dairy products must be avoided as these can worsen the condition.
A. Loss of appetite and weight loss are among the common symptoms of Crohn’s disease. A study suggests that as many as 57% of patients witness considerable weight loss before diagnosis. Also, it makes gaining weight more difficult.