Crohn’s disease

With Bay Cluster Network

IN OUR SECOND ARTICLE ABOUT INFLAMMATORY BOWEL DISEASE, WE TALK ABOUT:

Crohn’s disease (CD) is estimated to affect over 115,000 people nationwide but what actually is CD? 

CD is a condition that causes inflammation of the digestive system. CD can affect any part of the digestive system; however it usually affects the last part of the small intestine or the colon. As CD is a chronic condition, it is an ongoing condition that once diagnosed remains for the rest of your life. Patients with CD may have periods of good health known as remission, they will also have times when their symptoms are active better known as relapses or flare ups.

What are the symptoms? 

With CD, symptoms often depend on the individual i.e. where in the gut the disease is present. The symptoms can vary in severity from mild to severe and this can also change over time. The most common symptoms include;

  • – abdominal pain and diarrhoea 
  • – fatigue and tiredness 
  • – generally feeling unwell 
  • – loss of appetite and weight      

Who usually gets CD?

CD is more prevalent in developed countries. The disease can present at any age but it often is diagnosed for the first time for those between 10-40. In recent times, with increasing knowledge of CD, it has been suggested that new cases are being diagnosed more often much earlier during childhood and teenage years.

CD is slightly more prevalent in women than in men and also in those that smoke.

What causes CD? 

There is currently a lot of research in to CD. How-ever we are still unsure of the exact causes. Over the past few years advances in research have meant that it is now believed that CD is caused by many different factors including the genes you’re born with plus an abnormal reaction of your immune system to certain bacteria in your intestines. This can be combined with an unknown trigger including viruses, bacteria, smoking or something else in the environment.

How do we treat CD? 

Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for CD. However, drug treatment and in some cases surgery can provide long periods of symptom relief.

Treatment of CD depends on the severity of the CD. In mild cases, no treatment may be an option, in other cases altering patients’ diet may be sufficient. Other cases require medication and sometimes surgery. Ultimately, treatment will depend on the type of CD you have and this discussion will be had with your specialist consultant.

What are the challenges for people living with CD? 

Living with CD can have both emotional and physical impact on people’s lives. During flare-ups, making adjustments to life is essential and allowing your body to recuperate is needed. However, when people are in remission, they can live life as normal.

Flare-ups can be both disruptive and embarrassing either in work or in relationships and cancelling appointments and taking time off when you feel unwell is a necessity. We encourage CD patients to open up to close friends and family about your condition so that they have a better understanding of CD.

Many people with CD often see their GP or speak to their GP pharmacist about their flare ups and treatments and also many discuss their management with their dedicated CD hospital team.

If you have any concerns or questions regarding CD, please do not hesitate to contact your GP who would be more than happy to help. 

 

 

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