Crohn’s disease causes severe long-term inflammation within the digestive tract. It’s one of the two most common inflammatory bowel diseases, along with ulcerative colitis. Crohn’s disease usually occurs in the small intestine and the first part of the large intestine, however, the inflammation can occur anywhere from the mouth to the anus.
Many people experience serious gastrointestinal symptoms with Crohn’s disease. The disease can eventually cause complications like scar tissue narrowing of the intestine (stricture) and abnormal tunnels from your bowel to other organs (fistula). Crohn’s disease also increases your risk of colorectal cancer.
What are the symptoms of Crohn’s disease?
Crohn’s disease symptoms can range from mild to severe and typically develop slowly, but in some cases, they may start suddenly. The disease commonly occurs in bouts, with periods of remission in which you’re symptom-free and relapse in which you experience symptoms.
During a relapse, common symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Blood in stool
- Joint pain
- Mouth ulcers
- Drainage from a fistula
Crohn’s disease can be painful, disruptive, and debilitating. Without good Crohn’s disease management, you could even develop life-threatening complications. Fortunately, the right medical approach can help you minimize your symptoms and achieve long-term remission.
How is Crohn’s disease treated?
Crohn’s disease treatment can be complex because there’s no definitive cure at this time. NVG creates a personalized Crohn’s disease treatment plan for your disease, lifestyle, and needs.
Common aspects of treatment include:
- Medication to reduce inflammation
- Medication to reduce immune system activity
- Medication to reduce your symptoms
- Antibiotics, if complications arise
- Period of bowel rest (fasting or limiting your food and liquid intake)
If medication and other nonsurgical approaches don’t adequately control your Crohn’s disease symptoms, or if you have serious complications like fistulas, you could need surgery. Up to 75% of people with Crohn’s disease need surgery eventually.
Surgery focuses on preserving as much of your healthy bowel as possible while also treating your complications and relieving symptoms. It can give you the best quality of life possible, but surgery isn’t a permanent cure for Crohn’s disease. So, Crohn’s disease management is a lifelong endeavor.