What is Crohn’s Disease?

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Crohn’s is a form of inflammatory bowel disease that impacts nearly 800,000 Americans each year. It can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract, which serves to digest and derive nutrients from food. Symptoms can develop from the mouth to the anal tract.

rohn’s disease most commonly affects the small intestine and the colon. It often affects one or a few parts of the GI tract severely without causing symptoms elsewhere. Symptoms can be mild or very serious. They may worsen or even completely change over time.

The disorder is perhaps best known for its characteristic cycle of remission and relapse. At some times, swelling of the GI tract may subside completely. These remissions can last for months or even years before symptoms return without any apparent cause.

For most sufferers, diarrhea and abdominal cramps are both the most persistent and intense symptoms. Periodic fever, fatigue, and loss of appetite may accompany flare-ups. When distress lasts a long time, there may be weight loss or bleeding from the rectum.

What Causes Crohn’s Disease?

The causes of Crohn’s disease are poorly understood. Experts believe there is a strong genetic component to the disease. Up to 20% of people diagnosed with the condition have a parent, sibling, or child with Crohn’s.

Environmental factors can aggravate Crohn’s symptoms:

  • Age – Older people are more likely than younger ones to have severe symptoms
  • Status as a smoker – Smoking seems to make Crohn’s flare-ups more likely
  • Duration of illness – Symptoms have a tendency to become worse over time
  • Complications – Crohn’s affecting the rectum produces more severe symptoms

Crohn’s disease clinical trials are being performed by many companies and government agencies. Despite great interest in it, clinical resources for Crohn’s disease are still limited.

How is Crohn’s Disease Diagnosed?

There is no single test for diagnosing Crohn’s disease. Instead, the doctor must rule out other causes of distress. Blood tests are done to look for signs of anemia or infection. A stool sample may also be taken to test for the presence of blood.

A variety of different medical imaging technologies can be used to evaluate the bowels, colon, and intestines. These include CT scans, MRIs, and others. The most common is the colonoscopy, which allows the doctor to see the entire colon using a tiny camera.

How is Crohn’s Disease Treated or Cured?

Treatment is medication-centered and focuses on finding a combination of anti-inflammatory drugs that reduce symptoms and prevent complications. Immunosuppressants can also be used to target the natural substances that cause inflammation.

Patients who have abscesses or fistulas as a result of Crohn’s disease may benefit from antibiotics. These reduce drainage and enable the body to heal tissue damage. Some researchers feel they have a positive influence on the microbial makeup of the intestine.

Crohn’s Disease Lifestyle Changes

Although the mechanisms of Crohn’s are not well understood, certain lifestyle changes help the majority of patients. Maintaining a healthy weight helps reduce the odds of certain complications. Complete smoking cessation might make future flare-ups less common.

Many people with Crohn’s have specific food triggers that worsen their symptoms. Keeping a daily symptom journal makes it easier to discover these over time. Foods that cause severe symptoms should be restricted or eliminated.

Foods that may be hard to digest include fatty foods, dairy, raw fruits or vegetables, red meat, butter, and high-fiber foods.

Crohn’s Disease Clinical Trials

The following clinical trial are the most recent offered by Clinicaltrials.gov. If you would like us to feature any additional trials, please contact our team.