There is only one thing more unpleasant that being ill and that is when you suffer from a chronic illness. Add to that the struggle to deal with conditions like Crohn's disease and its symptoms can be very frustrating. Part of the reason for this is that it is a disease that is not yet fully understood. Although many studies have been conducted there is still much more to learn about the disease and the majority of the treatments available today are still experimental.
What Is Crohn's Disease?
Crohn's disease is often misunderstood. Many believe it is an autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation in the digestive tract. In most autoimmune diseases, the inflammation is a result of the immune system attacking the body but some scientists have begun to wonder if the immune system is really attacking the body or is it fighting off harmless bacteria or food in the bowel or the digestive tract. The actual cause of the disease is not clear. The only thing that researchers can be sure of is that it is an abnormal response of the immune system to some unknown triggers.
Symptoms of Crohn's Disease:
People who suffer with Crohn's often experience symptoms that can be quite severe. These are often followed by a quiet period of time that can last for several weeks or years before another flare up. During the dormant period, symptoms are rarely visible but during flare ups, patients may experience chronic diarrhea, unexplained weight loss, fever, abdominal cramping and tenderness, feelings of fullness in the belly, and occasional rectal bleeding.
Over time other symptoms may develop that may lead to complications in other areas of their health. These may include severe inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract, abdominal distension, severe cramping, and high fever. While these symptoms do not seem to be serious, some cases could escalate to the point of being life-threatening.
Treatment of Crohn's Disease:
There are several treatments for Crohn's disease but it is important to understand that these are not a cure for the condition. They can, however, give people more control of their lives. Treatment options can vary from administering medications like anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids, immune system modifiers, antibiotics, antidiarrheal drugs, and TNF blockers.
In severe cases, your doctor may recommend surgery. However, the goal of the surgery is not necessarily to treat the condition of the disease but to treat the complications that may result from the disease. In such cases, part of the bowel is removed to help to relieve many of the symptoms a patient may be suffering.
While there is no evidence that food is behind the pain one may suffer with Crohn's disease, some doctors may recommend a bland diet, void of spicy and high-fiber foods when experiencing a flare up.
To date, there is no definitive cure for Crohn's disease. The treatments that are offered can only provide some relief for those who suffer from it. Much more research is needed to get a better understanding of the disease and how best to treat it.