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Crohn's Disease: What, Why, How?

According to a recent study by The Lancet, Crohn's disease impacts both the rural and urban population of India.

Gut health can significantly impact the quality of one's life. Diseases related to the digestive system can interfere with the routine of a person. Symptoms of Gut ailments range from mild discomfort to life-threatening complications.



Crohn's disease is one of the lesser-known but highly invasive gut diseases. It is a type of IBD or Inflammatory Bowel Disease. The ailment causes your digestive tissues to swell up.

What are its causes? How does it affect the patient? What are the possible treatments? How can one prevent its development?


Read ahead to find out!


What is Crohn's Disease?

Crohn's disease is an inflammatory disease that may lead to swelling in different parts of the Gut. However, inflammation of the small intestine is most commonly observed.




Some of the notable symptoms of the disease involve:

  • Fatigue

  • Fever

  • Blood in the stool

  • Cramps

  • Abdominal pain

  • Diarrhea

  • Loss of appetite

  • Weight loss

  • Pain around the anus

  • Mouth sores

  • Fistula

In case you have any of the symptoms of Crohn's disease above, it is advised to see a doctor as soon as possible. Early detection can assist with the proper management of the disease.

All of the above are the commonly observed symptoms. People suffering from extreme cases may also experience other significant complications. These may even include Kidney stones or anemia.


Causes of Crohn's Disease

While we do not have any definite information about the causes of Crohn's disease, we may still pin it on a few risk factors.


The most prominent risk factors include:

  • Lifestyle habits

Habits like smoking can be extremely harmful to the Gut and may increase your chances of developing chronic diseases by many folds. For Crohn's disease specifically, smoking is known to nearly double up an individual's chances of developing the disease.

  • Genetic history

A significant factor in many chronic diseases is having a history of patients with Crohn's disease in your family. In this case, you are more likely to develop the ailment. Additionally, specific genetic mutations also make an individual more vulnerable to this disease.

  • Underlying autoimmune disease

Sometimes, the body's immune system turns against it and starts affecting the healthy cells of the body. Having such a condition related to the Gut may lead to an increase in the chances of developing inflammatory diseases.

While there may be several other risk factors, the critical thing to note is that we may not have much control over the causes. On the other hand, all diseases have a faulty lifestyle in common. Maintaining a healthy routine is the best thing we can do for our bodies.


How do Healthcare Professionals Treat Crohn's Disease?

Healthcare professionals have to use different kinds of tests to tell if an individual is suffering from Crohn's disease:


  • GI exam

Doctors make use of an Upper GI exam to take a deeper view of your Gut.

  • Colonoscopy

Doctors make use of an endoscope to check inside your colon.

  • Blood test

A higher-than-normal number of white blood cells in the blood may reflect a possible infection or inflammation.

  • Stool Test

Doctors may check your stool for bacteria or parasites to rule out other infections.

  • CT scan

Images from the CT scan of the gut can be highly resourceful in detecting gut inflammation.

Once diagnosed, the doctors may prescribe different types of treatments to other patients. The cause of variation is due to a variety in the causal agents of the symptoms. There are some commonly prescribed treatments for Crohn's disease. These include antibiotics, bowel rest, immunomodulators, and, in some extreme cases, even surgery.


Prevention, Management & Cure

The bad news is- Crohn's disease is not curable. The Good news is that proper treatment and precautions can help the patient live a close-to-normal life. If we begin with a standard order, let's first talk about how one can prevent this disease.


A simple answer will be to lead a healthy lifestyle. Having a daily exercise routine, a nutritious diet, abstaining from bad habits like smoking, and regulating stress can all be great ways to maintain a healthy body. But since we already know that the causes of Crohn's disease are not definitively known, we can't assure that these precautions are error-proof.


In a scenario where a person develops the disease, following the doctor's prescriptions closely is the only way to manage the disease. Ultimately, there are two goals. The patient needs to prevent the disease from giving rise to further severe complications, & also live a normal life, as much as possible.

Healthcare professionals prescribe treatments and lifestyle changes to achieve the two.


Final Thoughts

Whenever an incurable disease is in question, it is always advisable to learn about prevention. In the case of causes of Crohn's disease, prevention may not be entirely in our hands. But we must work to eliminate as many risk factors as we can.


Patients with Crohn's disease have to make multiple lifestyle changes to manage it. The aftermath is naturally invasive and further threatens to turn into mild to severe complications.

The rise of such diseases can be significantly attributed to the rise of faulty lifestyle habits. Smoking, alcohol consumption, fat-heavy diets, and sedentary and stressful lifestyles all mess with the overall health of an individual.


Some may argue that they have to maintain extreme routines to reach their professional goals. However, staying healthy is actually better for your productivity in the long run. So, do not ignore the needs of your body. Nurture and nourish as needed.

 

The Author : Dr. Sunil Khattri

sunilkhattri@gmail.com

+91 9811618704


Dr. Sunil Khattri MBBS, MS(General Surgery), LLB, is a Medical doctor and is a practicing Advocate in the Supreme Court of India and National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, New Delhi.

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