Crohn’s Disease comes under that banner of conditions called Inflammatory Bowel Disease.
In other videos we have spoken about inflammatory bowel disease and ulcerative colitis. Crohn’s disease, I suppose, is the third leg of that triad if you like. It affects both the small and the large bowel and again it causes inflammation on the lining of the gut. The sorts of symptoms that people might get with Crohn’s disease can vary but the commoner ones would be abdominal pain, fever in some people, diahorrea or changes in bowel pattern, blood in the stools as well. Other people may get nausea, loss of appetite, headaches, there’s a variety of symptoms and as you can see most of these are fairly non-specific. There are no text book symptoms that are unique to this condition. Weight loss though, is something else that can occur in Crohn’s disease.
It typically affects people in a younger age group so it’s more likely to affect people in their twenties and thirties rather than in their sixties or seventies. It’s a condition that does tend to be lifelong so once people have it they tend to have it for the rest of their life but it isn’t always severe that whole time. There are periods when there are virtually no symptoms and other periods when the symptoms can be quite acute or bad. It more commonly affects women than men, for reasons that I don’t think anybody knows and there do seem to be genetic connections although it’s not quite as straight forward as someone in your family has it so that means you will get it.
Like the other inflammatory bowel conditions, it seems to be some sort of antibody release response so there are theories for auto-antibodies and that again leads back to theories of viruses that could trigger this off in some people. These are things we don’t really know. Alright; so what happens if you have some of these symptoms? Obviously you have to go along and see your GP and they will need to do some tests. Crohn’s disease will typically be diagnosed either on a scope and that might be a colonoscope as it can affect the large bowel. In the “old” days this was more typically diagnosed from the top end with a Barium Swallow and these days perhaps with an endoscope. Again, biopsies or samples are taken from the lining of the gut.
Treatment for Crohn’s disease typically involves medications and again this is a fairly specialised area. Generally the role of these tablets is to dampen down the inflammation and settle the gut down, make it a little less red and irritated. For some people with Crohn’s they will require surgery and some of that surgery may involve removing some of bowel. For people with more advanced or severe Crohn’s sometimes all of the large intestine needs to be removed. Fortunately this is fairly rare and particularly with modern surgical techniques there are ways to work around bowel function. Also important, and we have said this with other conditions, as you’ll see on videos on this site – looking after your general health with any long term condition is really important so things like the managing of your stress, being sensible with your diet, getting enough sleep and a little bit of regular exercise. Anything that supports your overall health will be helpful in any long term condition including Crohn’s and it is important to point out that people really do live with diseases like Crohn’s disease for an extended and long period of time, it’s not something that significantly shortens life expectancy.
Alrighty – so to sum up Crohn’s disease; I’m not going to stand here and pretend it’s a pleasant thing to have and I don’t think there is anyone who has it who wouldn’t say I’d prefer not to have it. However it is very liveable and people will have it for many, many years and be able to go about their lives pretty much in a normal way. Yes, you may need some medications and yes, some people will require surgery; however, it is a condition which is very much compatible with getting on with everyday life in a normal way.
 

Crohn's disease picture For more information on Crohn’s disease, see Crohn’s Disease.