Crohn's Disease Overview
Crohn's Disease is a chronic inflammation of the intestines, bowel or digestive
tract. This disease is one of a number of similar colon related diseases known
as inflammatory bowel diseases or IBD. Crohn's disease can affect any area of
the digestive tract from mouth to anus, but it's most often found in the lower
area of the small intestine, known as the ileum.
The inflammation is usually found deep within the lining of the organ
affected, which causes both pain and frequent diarrhea from the intestines
being emptied continuously. Sometimes the diarrhea is bloody too.
Crohn's disease affects men, women and children, though the actual cause is not
known. There are some indications of hereditary and genetic links, though.
About 20% of Crohn's disease sufferers have family members who also have some
form of inflammatory bowel disease, with siblings being the most common.
A related IBD known as Ulcerative colitis, affects the top layer of lining in
the large intestine, which can make diagnosis of Crohn's disease more
difficult. To make things even more complicated, many of the symptoms of this
disease mimic a disorder known as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS.
One of the defining symptoms of Crohn's Disease is bleeding, however. Doctors
can test for blood in the stools; perform blood tests for anemia, because this
could be an indication of internal bleeding of the intestine; and perform an
upper GI, or gastrointestinal series, which is an x-ray process that will
reveal inflammation and abnormalities in the intestine.
Other symptoms of Crohn's disease include abdominal pain or tenderness -
particularly high on the right side - fever, weight loss, being tired, having
sores around the anus which produce discharge, ulcers on the tongue or cheek,
inflamed eyes, painful or swollen joints and red bumps on your skin.
In addition to the diagnosis methods already mentioned, doctors might also
decide to do a colonoscopy. This involves inserting a flexible tube into the
anus to see inside the large intestine. The tube is often hooked to a tv or
computer monitor so the doctor can see internal inflammation or bleeding
during the examination. Sometimes they'll take a tissue sample as well, to
send to the lab for further testing.
If the colonoscopy shows inflammation or bleeding, the doctor normally orders
additional x-rays of both the upper and lower intestines to see how far the
disease has progressed.
There are a whole host of complications which can arise with Crohn's disease.
Ulceric sores can tunnel through the tissue and affect surrounding organs such
as the bladder, skin and vagina, for instance. These tunnels, commonly called
fistulas, often become infected.
Nutritional deficiencies are well documented side effects of Crohn's disease,
though some researchers question whether these might actually contribute to
the disease instead. Other complications of Crohn's disease can include kidney
stones, arthritis, skin problems, eye inflammations, liver diseases and more.
As we've talked about in previous herbal and alternative remedy article
series, when the colon or bowel is sick, the entire body reflects that
sickness and the documented side effects and complications of Crohn's disease
is an excellent example of this concept.