What are the symptoms of Crohn's Disease? How is it treated?
Crohn's Disease is a chronic, recurring inflammation of the
intestines. Patients typically have diarrhea and abdominal pain,
especially in the lower right side. Other symptoms may be weight
loss, vomiting, and fever. It is diagnosed from other causes of
these common symptoms with barium enema (an x-ray taken after
dye is put in the colon), and looking directly at the colon with a
There is no cure for Crohn's disease. It is a chronic disease that
must be treated continually through a variety of methods. The wide
arsenal of potential treatments is tailored to the individual patients
Diet is important element control. Decreasing fiber, fats, or milk
may be recommend. Sometimes it will be necessary to eliminate
all intake by mouth for a short period of time, to allow the bowel to
rest and heal. Vitamins supplements may be required because the
disease leads to decreased absorption.
There are several types of medications that are used. Most
Crohn's disease patients will take several different medications at
the same time. Sulfasalazine and its cousins are for flare-ups in
the colon. Metronidazole is an anti-biotic that helps keep infections
of the diseased tissues under control. Steroids typically added
when all of the above are not enough. Immunosuppressive therapy
is sometimes added to the mix.
Surgery is likely for the majority of patients at one point or another.
The surgery will remove the severely affected and damaged
sections of bowel. It is done as a last resort.
For pregnant women, sulfasalazine and steroids are safe to use.
Folic acid supplements, ideally before becoming pregnant, are in
order. But, metronidazole and immunosuppressives can harm
fetus or nursing baby.
Not to be forgotten is psychological treatment. Having a long-term,
lifestyle altering illness is stressful. Frequent flare-ups of illness,
and trying to maintain normal social functioning with frequent bouts
of diarrhea can wear on patients psychologically. So, counseling is