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Crohn’s Disease in Children and Teens

How is Crohn’s disease diagnosed?

The doctor will review the patient’s medical and family history. Various tests are used to diagnose Crohn’s disease, including the following:

  • Endoscopy (such as colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy): During this procedure, a doctor inserts a flexible, lighted tube with a camera in the rectum. The tube and camera together are called an endoscope. It’s used to view the inside of the rectum and colon. Colonoscopy shows a greater portion of the colon than sigmoidoscopy does. A small sample of tissue may be taken for testing, or biopsy.
  • Blood tests: When testing the blood, the doctor will look for signs of anemia, or a high white blood cell count. A high white blood cell count indicates inflammation or infection somewhere in the body.
  • Barium X-ray (barium enema or small bowel series): These procedures use X-rays to examine the upper or lower intestine. Barium coats the lining of the small intestine and colon and appears white on an X-ray. This allows the doctor to review any abnormalities.

 

How is Crohn’s disease treated and managed in children and teens?

Treatment of Crohn's disease depends on how severe it is and where it’s located. The disease can sometimes go into remission on its own. So it’s not always possible to determine whether a specific treatment has been effective. When Crohn’s disease is active, treatment is aimed at controlling inflammation, correcting nutritional deficiencies, and relieving symptoms such as pain, diarrhea, and fever.

In general, medications are the first step in treating Crohn’s disease in children and teens. Some of these drugs include anti-inflammatories, antibiotics, antidiarrheals, and immune-suppressing drugs (including corticosteroids). For those patients who have nutritional deficiencies, supplements are often prescribed.

Sometimes, drugs cannot keep Crohn’s disease under control. In those cases, surgery to remove a part of the bowel is sometimes needed. The disease, though, often returns to the area near where the inflamed part was removed.

A healthy lifestyle is important in managing Crohn’s. Children and teens should exercise regularly and eat a healthy diet. People with this disease usually are able to lead a healthy and active life. Most children with Crohn’s are able to attend school and participate in sports and daily activities if the disease is treated and managed appropriately.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on July 22, 2012

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