Crohn’s Disease Treatment: Common Medications for Treating Crohn’s
Crohn's disease, also known as ileitis or regional enteritis, is a chronic illness. In Crohn's, the intestine, bowel, or other part of the digestive tract becomes inflamed and ulcerated -- marked with sores. Along with ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease is part of a group of diseases known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Crohn's disease usually affects the lower part of the small intestine, which is called the ileum. The disease, though, can occur in any part of the gastrointestinal system. Thus, the disorder may affect the large or small intestine, the stomach, the esophagus, or even the mouth. Crohn's can occur at any age. It is most commonly diagnosed in people who are between the ages of 20 and 30.
The symptoms of Crohn's disease depend on where in the bowel the disease occurs. They also depend on its severity. Symptoms can include:
abdominal pain and tenderness (often on the lower right side of the abdomen)
delayed development and stunted growth (in children)
feeling of a mass or fullness in the lower right abdomen
Other symptoms can develop, depending on complications related to the disease. For example, a person with a fistula, which is an abnormal passageway, in the rectal area may have pain and discharge around the rectum. Other complications from Crohn's disease include:
The cause of Crohn's disease is not known. It is likely that there is a genetic component. About 20% of people with Crohn's disease have a blood relative with a form of IBD. People of Jewish heritage have a greater risk of developing Crohn's.
Crohn's disease may involve the immune system. The immune system of a person with Crohn's may treat bacteria, food, and other substances as foreign invaders, leading to chronic inflammation from the accumulation of white blood cells in the lining of the intestines and resulting in ulcerations and injury to the tissues.
How is Crohn's disease diagnosed?
A number of tests are used to distinguish Crohn's disease from other gastrointestinal conditions. First, your physician will review your medical history. This information is helpful because Crohn's disease is more common in people who have a first-degree relative -- mother, father, sister, or brother -- with IBD. After a physical examination is done, the doctor may order the following tests:
Endoscopy (such as colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy): During this procedure, a flexible, lighted tube called an endoscope is inserted into the rectum and used to view the inside of the rectum and colon. A colonoscopy shows a greater portion of the colon than a sigmoidoscopy does. A small sample of tissue may be taken for testing -- biopsy.
Blood tests: When testing the blood, the doctor will look for signs of anemia or a high white blood cell count that could indicate inflammation or infection somewhere in the body.
Barium X-ray (barium enema or small bowel series): X-rays are often taken of either the upper or lower intestine. Barium coats the lining of the small intestine and colon and shows up white on an X-ray. This characteristic enables doctors to view any abnormalities.