Crohn’s Disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that may affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract from mouth to anus. People with Crohn’s disease experience chronic recurring periods of flare-ups and remission.
Abdominal pain may be the initial symptom usually in the lower right area. It is often accompanied by diarrhea (which may be blooding if inflammation is severe).
The nature of the diarrhea depends on the part of the small intestine or colon involved. Ileitis typically results in large-volume, watery feces. In severe cases, an individual may have more than 20 bowel movements per day and may need to awaken at night to defecate.
Flatulence and bloating may also add to the intestinal discomfort. Perianal discomfort may also be prominent in Crohn’s disease. Itchiness or pain around the anus may be suggestive of inflammation, fistulization or abscess around the anal area or anal fissure.
There are no medications or surgical procedures that can cure Crohn’s disease. Treatment options are intended to help with symptoms, maintain remission, and prevent relapse.
The cause of Crohn’s disease is unknown, but it is believed to be due toa combination of environmental, immune, and bacterial factors in genetically susceptible individuals. It results in a chronic inflammatory disorder, in which the body’s immune symptom attacks the gastrointestinal tract, possibly targeting microbial antigens.
Diagnosis is based on a number of findings including biopsy and appearance of the bowel wall, medical imaging and description of the disease. During a colonoscopy, biopsies of the colon are often taken to confirm the diagnosis.
Signs and symptoms of Crohn’s disease can include one of the following:
- Feces are often porridge-like, sometimes steatorrhea (steatorrhea is the presence of excess fat in the feces. Stools may be bulky and difficult to flush, have a pale and oily appearance, and can be especially foul-smelling. An oily anal leakage or some level of fecal incontinence may occur)
- Tenesmus – Less common (Tenesmus refers to cramping rectal pain.
- Tenesmus gives you the feeling that you need to have a bowel movement, even if you already have had strain harder to produce only a small amount of stool during bowel movements.
- Fistulae – a fistula is an abnormal connection between two hollow spaces, such as blood vessels, intestines, or other hollow organs. Fistulas are usually caused by injury or surgery, but they can also result from an infection or inflammation.