Have you experienced excruciating pain in the lower half of your stomach? Have you been frequenting the loo more than normal? Does this happen more often nowadays? Well this can be due to a form of Irritable Bowel Disease also known as Crohn's disease (IBD).
IBD is a chronic inflammatory disease of the gastrointestinal tract (GI tract). It usually affects the intestines, but may occur anywhere from the mouth to the end of the rectum (anus).
The exact cause of Crohn's disease is unknown but it is a condition that occurs when your body's immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys healthy body tissue (autoimmune disorder).
People with Crohn's disease have ongoing chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. Crohn's disease may involve the small intestine, the large intestine, the rectum, or the mouth. The inflammation causes the intestinal wall to become thick.
This inflammation in Crohn’s disease is in the entire thickness of the gastrointestinal tract, hence it is called Transmural disease which means through the wall of the organ. Crohn’s disease can be segmental, that measn it can affect a particular area of the GI tract leaving the other absolutely healthy. Hence when a biopsy is taken it is necessary to detect the area of pain aptly.
High Risks for Crohn's disease
• Your genes and family history
• Environmental factors
• Tendency of your body to over-react to normal bacteria in the intestines
Crohn's disease may occur at any age. It usually occurs in people between ages 15 - 35.
Symptoms of Crohn's disease
• Crampy abdominal (belly area) pain
• Loss of appetite
• Joint pains
• Pain with passing stool (tenesmus)
• Persistent, watery diarrhea
• Weight loss
These vague symptoms is a main cause of Crohn’s disease going undetected. Doctors have seen patients who had undetected Crohn’s disease for almost two years.
Diagnosis of Crohn's Disease
- Stool tests.
- Blood tests
*Inputs: Dr. Sunit K Shukla, Consultant in Gastroenterology,MD, DM, Sevenhills Hospital, Mumbai
*Images courtesy: © Thinkstock photos/ Getty Images
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