Crohn’s disease is a chronic irritable bowel disease (IBD). In those with crohn’s disease, an abnormal immune system causes chronic inflammation in the digestive tract. IBD affects nearly 3 million Americans, and there is still no known cure.
Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease
A person living with crohn’s disease can experience many symptoms and the severity can range from no pain at all to immobilizing. The symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain
- Weight Loss
- Blood in Stools
- Nausea and vomiting
- No appetite
Long-Term effects of Crohn’s Disease
Living with crohn’s disease can take its toll on the body long term. If left unmanaged, crohn’s disease can worsen and cause extreme pain and health concerns. Over time, crohn’s disease can cause severe damage to the GI tract. This can lead to:
- Fistulas. When excessive inflammation causes ulcers to form on the intestine, a fistula can form. A fistula is when two parts of the intestine connect to form a tunnel to drain the pus from the infected area.
- Intestinal Abscesses. This is caused by an excess of bacteria in the abdomen.
- Intestinal Blockages. This is a blockage that keeps food or liquid from passing through the small or large intestine. Symptoms can include severe abdominal pain, vomiting and inability to pass gas or stool.
- Internal Bleeding. This internal bleeding is caused by tears in the bowel wall due to inflammation in the colon. It is often the cause for diarrhea or bloody stool, a common symptom of crohn’s disease.
Crohn’s disease can be managed and those with the disease can live a very fulfilling life. The main goal of management is to treat the inflammation, which should reduce the severity of the symptoms and hopefully lead to long-term remission.
As mentioned, there is no known cure for crohn’s disease. The only way to find a cure and help those living with crohn’s disease is to participate in clinical trials to further research and hopefully, find a cure.
Resources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, Bladder and Bowel