Crohn’s disease is a form of irritable bowel disease that causes inflammation and irritation of the digestive system. The digestive system includes every organ between the mouth and anus that processes food: the esophagus, stomach, intestines, rectum, and anus. For the more than half a million Americans who suffer from Crohn’s Disease, any day can present a bout with diarrhea, stomach cramps, and loss of appetite, weight loss and more. More definitively, Crohn’s disease can attack any part of the digestive tract but is most commonly known to affect the small intestine, though the large intestine is also affected; at least the beginning of the large intestine.
While Crohn’s Disease can be diagnosed by a medical professional, it often goes for years undiagnosed because its symptoms are similar to other digestive and gastrointestinal diseases, as well as stress and side effects from detractors like poor diet or certain medications. And, while researchers may not be 100% sure why people get Crohn’s Disease, there are treatments for its symptoms and conditions.
So then, what can you expect if you have or have been diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease? Here is some information to guide you.
As mentioned, the signs and symptoms that accompany Crohn’s disease are similar to other ailments, which can complicate diagnosing the condition. To determine if you do in fact have Crohn’s Disease or symptoms that might mean that you do, a doctor will conduct or order several diagnostic tests which may include an intestinal endoscopy, an upper gastrointestinal series, or a CT scan which may (or may not) confirm Crohn’s disease. Doctors will also order tests that will rule out other conditions that cause symptoms similar to those of Crohn’s disease, such as cancer, ulcerative colitis, and diverticular disease.
If you have symptoms that are associated with Crohn’s disease, see your doctor for a physical exam. Bloating in the abdomen is a symptom that the doctor will check and will see how you respond to stomach tenderness or pain. Your doctor will also palpate the area to determine if the spleen or liver is enlarged, which could be indicative of Crohn’s Disease.
Should diagnostics confirm you, in fact, do have Crohn’s disease, your doctor will develop a treatment plan with the primary goal to decrease inflammation in the intestines and eliminate future flare-ups.
No two people are alike, nor are two treatment plans. And because there is no-plan-cures-all treatment, you may be prescribed the following alone, or in combination with each other.
- Bowel rest requires you do exactly as the phrase suggests – rest the bowels for a period of time prescribed by the doctor. Expect to only drink liquids during bowel rest or refrain from eating or drinking anything at all.
- Medication is often prescribed for Crohn’s patients. What your doctor prescribes depends on your symptoms.
- Surgery treats symptoms, but like medications and bowel rest, it won’t cure Crohn’s, only treat the symptoms and complications of the disease.
For more than 25 years, Carlisle Digestive Disease Associates has provided great care to the community, treating digestive disorders and more. If you have symptoms that seem to be related to Crohn’s disease, please call for an appointment so that your condition may be accurately diagnosed and treated.
Carlisle Digestive Disease Associates proudly serves the areas of Carlisle, Boiling Springs, Newville, Mechanicsburg, Camp Hill, Shippensburg, Chambersburg, and central Pennsylvania. If you have any questions about our Gastroenterology services or your treatment, or to schedule an appointment, please call our office at (717) 245-2228 or use our secure online appointment request form.