Crohn's Disease Symptoms and Treatments
Crohn’s disease is part of a group of diseases known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and is the chronic inflammation of the digestive tract. Most people with Crohn’s disease experience swelling, discomfort and pain after eating, and need to modify their daily diet considerably to make sure they do not become malnourished.
The first step in handling the disease is to identify the symptoms and meet with a physician for a diagnosis. The severity of the disease will determine the type of treatment you need and will also determine what you need to be eating. Your doctor may refer you to a nutritional specialist or dietitian who can create a customized treatment plan for your individual needs.
Common Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease
The symptoms of Crohn’s disease depend on the severity of the condition and can become more apparent after eating certain foods. Some of the most common and recognizable symptoms of Crohn’s disease include:
- Weight loss
- Rectal bleeding
- Chronic diarrhea
- Severe abdominal pain
- Tenderness in the abdominal area
- Kidney stones
- Inflammation of the eyes and mouth
- Liver disease
- Skin rashes
Crohn’s Disease Treatment Options
Your physician will need to conduct a number of tests to determine whether you have Crohn’s disease or another gastrointestinal disease or illness. Some of the most common tests performed before a treatment plan can be created include blood tests, endoscopy and barium x-rays. Since there is no cure or Crohn’s disease, a doctor can create a treatment plan that will make it easier to cope with the disease and eliminate any nutritional deficiencies.
Some of the common Crohn’s disease treatments include:
- Drug therapy that reduces inflammation and change the way the immune system functions
- Antibiotics to treat any infection in the intestine
- Fluid replacement to prevent dehydration
- Nutritional supplements to prevent malnutrition
- Antidiarrheal agents to prevent diarrhea, a common symptom of Crohn’s disease
Some people can enjoy a better quality of life with a combination of treatments and therapies. The type of treatment selected will depend on where the disease is located and the severity of the disease. Unfortunately, many drugs have severe side effects that can outweigh any benefits. For example, corticosteroids can increase the risk of infection. Drugs that reduce inflammation often have unwanted side effects including nausea, diarrhea, headaches and heartburn. Immunosuppressants can also cause diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and increase the risk of infection.
Many people who develop a severe case of Crohn’s disease need to have surgery to remove the inflamed tissues in the intestines and gastrointestinal system. Common types of surgery include laparoscopic treatments and bowel-sparing surgery.
Get in touch with your physician to learn more about the symptoms of Crohn’s disease and to identify a treatment plan that will reduce the symptoms and improve the health of your digestive tract. Your doctor can refer you to a nutritionist to ensure you are getting the nutrients you need, and help you cope better with the disease.