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Crohn’s Disease

By Sasha de Beausset Aparicio, MSc

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Crohn's Disease

What Is Crohn’s Disease

Crohn’s disease, also known by the name of regional “enteritis” or “Crohn’s syndrome,” represents an inflammatory bowel disease which can also negatively influence parts of the gastrointestinal tract from anus to mouth. It was named after Burrill Bernard Crohn who was born in 1884 and published a paper in the year 1932 based on a 17-year-old person who refused to accept the diagnosis which was commonly given to him. The boy was told that he suffered from intestinal tuberculosis, but this was proven false after years of research.

However, the first description of this disease was made by a physician called Giovanni B. Morpagni. Additionally, other reports of similar cases were brought to light by Antoni Lsniowski, John Berg, and T. Kennedy Dalziel.

This condition is mainly characterized by the fact that the immune system of the organism begins to attack healthy cells that are a part of the gastrointestinal tract, thus determining some inflammation. Furthermore, it is classified as being an autoimmune disorder because the body produces antibodies that begin attacking healthy cells that pose no danger to the body. In most of the cases, this condition appears in a region of the small intestine, which is referred to as the ileum, but may appear in others as well.


As with many diseases out there, the specific cause behind the development of Crohn’s disease is currently unknown. While some sources revealed that poor dieting and insane amounts of stress were the main cause behind its appearance, it is now known that these factors may only aggravate it, but are not a cause for it.

After a series of studies, scientists discovered that most frequent influences behind Crohn’s syndrome are the malfunctioning of the immune system and heredity. For instance, it is likely that a bacteria or a virus trigger it, because when the immune system is struggling with the fight against the microorganism invasion, the response is abnormal; instead of trying to fight them off, the immune system also negatively affects the cells from the digestive tract.

As far as the heredity factor goes, this disease is thought to be more common among individuals whose family members suffer from it. Additionally, some experts suggest that there are some genes which make individuals prone to its development. On the other hand, this theory is not sustained by the large amounts of cases in which there is no family history involved. Therefore, further research and clinical tests are required.

Signs & Symptoms

Depending on the severity of this condition, patients who suffer from it may experience different symptoms. For example, there are some whose small intestine is affected, while others whose colon isn’t properly functioning. Those above-mentioned bodily regions are the ones most commonly affected by this condition.

Its symptoms vary from mild to severe and can either be developed gradually or appear suddenly with no warning. Additionally, people should be aware of the fact that there may be some periods of time in which the condition goes in remission and no symptoms are experienced, meaning that, even though the person has the illusion of being cured, chances are that he or she is not yet.
Among the most frequently encountered symptoms in people that suffer from Crohn’s disease are the following: blood in the stool, diarrhea, abdominal cramps and pain, reduced appetite, ulcers, and weight-loss. Furthermore, there are others such as eye inflammations, arthritis, fever, mouth sores, fatigue, liver or bile inflammation, as well as delayed sexual development and growth which can appear depending on the gravity of the situation and patient’s age, health, and sex.

Diagnosis Crohn’s Disease

Unfortunately, there isn’t a specific test that can dictate whether an individual suffers from Crohn’s disease or not, because the symptoms linked to this condition are likely to be a part of other bodily illnesses. Hence, in order to properly diagnose it, a doctor has to gather certain information that comes from multiple sources. This is why, during a consultation, a person may go through a combination of lab tests and studies that are meant to determine which region of the digestive tract is influenced while ruling out other potential health problems with similar symptoms.

For example, the doctor needs to do some tests on abdominal tenderness, temperature, stool or diarrhea. while also getting the patient’s family history. Additionally, a specialized healthcare provider may request other tests like X-Rays, CT scans, video capsule endoscopy, colonoscopy, and sigmoidoscopy. After the results are back, the doctor can tell if an individual suffers from Crohn’s disease with a certain percentage of accuracy and may be able to prescribe a treatment. If a person is still not convinced about the diagnosis, he/she may consult other doctors or try specific tests. However, if an individual possesses three or more of the symptoms linked to this condition, a visit to a doctor is more than mandatory.

Treatment for Crohn’s Disease

The goal behind the recommended treatment for Crohn’s disease focuses on reducing the underlying inflammation in order to relieve its symptoms, prevent complications, and keep a good nutrition. Among the medication prescribed to reduce the inflammation, there are corticosteroids, inflammatory drugs and some biologics, antibiotics, and immunosuppressant. In case the treatment doesn’t have a positive response in the organism of the individual, surgery may be needed.

A piece of good news is that by treating the inflammation, most of the other symptoms follow it, but if this doesn’t happen, they can be individually treated. On the other hand, there are some complications that require other types of treatment. For example, a fistula may be treated by getting rid of the infection with the help of antibiotics. While other medication can be utilized for helping with this issue, in 30 to 40 percent of the cases, antibiotics work.

Those who want to reach towards alternative medicine for treating this condition should know that the majority of these therapies aren’t FDA regulated. For instance, there are some studies which have been done on probiotics and fish oil due to their potency linked to the symptom relief which pointed out that there are increased chances for no effects whatsoever. The good side is that there are some studies done on prebiotics which revealed positive results. Therefore, there are possibilities for individuals who want to appeal to the alternative approach instead.