Crohn’s disease, a type of inflammatory bowel disease, has no cure. But there are many treatments, specific to type, and it is possible to keep the symptoms under control.
A gastroenterologist offers some tips for those newly diagnosed with the condition.
What is Crohn’s Disease?
Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are two types of IBD, diseases involving chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract.
Crohn’s is caused by an overactive immune system. Cases are on the rise, but it’s unclear whether that’s because doctors are getting better at diagnosing it or if environment and diet play a role.
“There is a genetic component, but genetics alone don’t mean you’ll develop IBD,” Coates said in a Penn State Health news release. “It takes a certain type of genetic background mixed with an environmental exposure, such as an infection or a change in the microbiome — or the fungi, bacteria and viruses that reside in the gastrointestinal tract.”
What are the symptoms?
Crohn’s typically starts in younger people. Early symptoms can include abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss and fatigue. Sufferers may have nutritional deficiencies. They may feel anxious or depressed.
The ongoing inflammation can lead to a narrowing in the bowel, making it hard for food to pass through. People with Crohn’s also may have abscesses and fistulas, which are abnormal connections between the diseased areas and other parts of the body, Dr. Matthew Coates, who treats diseases of the digestive system at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. explains.
Other symptoms can include skin rashes and problems with the eyes or joints.
“A lot of our strategy is focused on keeping the disease under control, and managing the