Crohn’s disease, or Crohn’s, is a long term condition that effects the lining of the digestive system, causing inflammation. Signs can include diarrhoea, abdominal pain and fatigue. Some of the symptoms may be similar to ulcerative colitis or Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
The cause of Crohn’s is unknown, but factors can include genetics, environment and smoking. Smokers who have Crohn’s tend to have worse symptoms than those who do not smoke and the disease is more common in westernised countries than in poorer parts of the world.
Some people with Crohn’s find that the condition is aggravated by certain foods. Milk and dairy products, spicy foods and fatty foods may make the condition worse.
Complications associated with Crohn’s disease can include bowel obstruction and fistulas. Inflammation of the colon may also cause prostate problems. Those suffering from the Chrohn's may also be at an increased risk to certain types of cancer, particularly colorectal cancer, and suffer from a higher incidence of ovarian cysts. Ovarian cysts often do not need treatment, but further tests may be done on post-menopausal women as they have a slightly increased risk of ovarian cancer.
Those with Crohn's disease may only have one episode or they may endure continuous symptoms. Often it recurs, but some patients can remain free of signs of the illness for years. There are various medications that are available to treat the disease, including steroid medications and immunosuppressants, with surgery required in some cases.
If you are concerned that you may have Crohn’s, you should consult your doctor as they will be able to perform tests to establish whether or not you have the illness. Sometimes the symptoms experienced could be due to another condition, such as ulcerative colitis or another bowel syndrome.
Online support forums are a great resource to discuss the condition with others and with those who are currently suffering from it. This can be useful for getting additional support and advice. You may also be able to find useful tips on managing the condition, although you should consult your doctor before making any changes.
- Crohn's is an inflammatory bowel condition.
- Crohn's treatment can include steroid medication and dietary changes, in some cases surgery may be required.
- Online forms are available for further support and advice.