Do I have Crohn’s disease? You may have asked yourself this question a couple of times after experiencing symptoms like diarrhea and abdominal pain. To fully comprehend almost all the medical details surrounding Crohn’s disease, and possibly determine if you have the ailment, you need to look at the bigger picture.
Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), with symptoms that are more or less similar to those of ulcerative colitis (UC). This similarity makes it difficult for health care providers to distinguish between the two diseases. To determine a proper diagnosis, doctors must perform both imaging tests and blood tests (of your intestines). Such tests include:
- Computerized tomography (CT)
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Capsule endoscopy
- Double-balloon endoscopy
- Small bowel imaging
These tests form the basis for a proper diagnosis.
What is the main difference between Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative colitis (UC)?
Crohn’s disease can affect any part of your gastrointestinal tract, whereas ulcerative colitis only affects your large intestine and rectum.
Although Crohn’s can affect any part of the digestive tract, it mostly affects the ileum (the end of the small intestine).
To know if you are suffering from Crohn’s, you’ll have to confirm if the symptoms you are experiencing are indeed associated with this disease. Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Cramping or pain in the abdomen
- Loss of appetite (or poor appetite)
- Loss of weight
These symptoms tend to occur as periods of flare-ups — when symptoms are more adverse — and during remission (free periods when sufferers do not show symptoms).
Apart from the above mentioned symptoms, other symptoms may also occur. Nevertheless, not all symptoms will be experienced by all Chron's patients. These symptoms include:
- Mouth ulcers
- Skin rash (or other problems affecting the skin)
- Arthritis or joint pain
- Bloody stool
Crohn’s Disease in Children
Crohn’s is mostly common among people between the ages of 15-years-old and 35-years-old. However, this digestive problem can also affect younger children. Although it is difficult to diagnose Crohn’s disease in children, the symptoms a child might experience are slightly similar to the symptoms experienced by older individuals.
In children, Crohn’s disease may result in stunted growth; such children develop slightly slower than normal children of the same age.
The Cause of Crohn’s Disease
To determine whether you have Crohn’s, you should be aware of some of the risk factors associated with this disease.
The risk of contracting this disease tremendously increases if:
- You smoke
- Any of your first-degree relatives suffer from the illness
- You are of Jewish descent
Apart from these risk factors, there is still no accurate explanation as to why Crohn’s disease develops in some people, but not in others. Some people believe the disease occurs as a result of a bacterial infection.
Nonetheless, the most logical and widespread theory regarding Chron's is that the disease occurs as a result of an autoimmune reaction. This situation occurs when the body’s immune system attacks the normal healthy tissues by mistake. For Crohn’s, the immune system mistakes harmless bacteria normally found in the intestines, for bacterial invaders. Healthy intestinal tissues are then destroyed.
Symptoms associated with the autoimmune reaction include abdominal pain and diarrhea. Other problems include damage of the gastrointestinal tract and development of ulcers on the walls of the intestine.
To give an exhaustive definition of Crohn’s disease, we only need to understand that it is an inflammatory disease that affects the intestines. To know if you have this disease, you need to know whether you have been exposed to any known risk factors or not, determine if you are experiencing the symptoms mentioned in this article, and most importantly, consult with a qualified doctor who will perform various tests to determine a proper diagnosis.
- Chron's disease can be determined through a multitude of testing. If you are experiencing any of the signs or symptoms of Chron's disease, consult with your doctor and discuss future testing.
- Chron's disease can affect any part of your gastrointestinal tract, whereas ulcerative colitis only affects your large intestine and rectum.
- Although Chron's is common among individuals between the age of 15-years-old and 35-years-old, Chron's is not picky. It is possible for a child to develop Chron's disease.