What is it?
Crohn’s disease is characterized by inflammation and narrowing of the gastrointestinal tract. Lesions occur all along the digestive tract from mouth to anus. In fact, often mouth sores are one of the hallmarks in diagnosing this illness. It is generally a chronic, recurrent condition with relapses and remissions, and affects the entire thickness of the intestinal wall. Symptoms can include weight loss, abdominal pain, fever, fatigue, and diarrhea. The latest research shows that Crohn’s patients may have a defect in their immune response to environmental factors.
• Often onset has limited symptoms
• Weight loss, lethargy, fever, and general malaise
• Diarrhea, which may be intermittent and bloody, but rarely frank blood as in UC
• Often vague abdominal pain, typically right lower or central, cramping or constant ache in nature
• Severe acute pain mimicking acute appendicitis
• Frequently perianal disease with abscess and fistulas
• May be seen on xray or other abdominal diagnostic imaging
• Any part of the gastrointestinal tract may be affected, and involvement is often not continuous
How do we treat it?
In Crohn’s, the body attacks a primary barrier to the outside world, the intestinal wall. As opposed to ulcerative colitis in which ulcers form, the inflammatory process in Crohn’s disease causes tissue thickening. So, then, why would the body have two different auto-immune mechanisms in the GI tract-either ulcers or inflammation? A buildup of tissue may indicate an attempt to fortify an inefficient barrier or the inflammation may be a sign of a deeper process within the body and mind-like a protective coping mechanism of walling off perceived physical, mental and emotional threats.