More than 500,000 people in the United States suffer from Crohn’s disease, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). It is an autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation in the digestive system, and while it can occur at any age, it usually appears during a person’s late teens or early twenties. Even so, Crohn’s disease in children is not unheard of.
People with the chronic disorder experience many unpleasant Crohn’s disease symptoms that affect their intestines and other parts of the digestive tract, and they must turn to different kinds of treatments to try to keep their symptoms under control.
One such treatment option that has recently come onto the scene is stem cell therapy. There are many uses of stem cells to treat diseases, and Crohn’s disease is an excellent candidate for this particular kind of regenerative medicine.
Could stem cell therapy be the right Crohn’s disease treatment for you or a loved one? Read on to learn more about Crohn’s disease and how stem cell therapy can help those who are affected by it.
What is Crohn’s disease?
Just exactly what is Crohn’s disease? As previously stated, Crohn’s disease is a chronic autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation along the large and small intestine and other parts of the digestive tract. When a flare-up occurs, tissues become swollen and can develop ulcers.
Crohn’s disease is one form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), not to be confused with another form of IBD known as ulcerative colitis. When it comes to ulcerative colitis vs. Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis usually only causes inflammation in the colon instead of in other parts of the digestive tract. You can read more about ulcerative colitis and the type of stem cell therapy used to treat it in this blog post: What Stem Cells Can Do for Your Ulcerative Colitis.
How is Crohn’s disease diagnosed?
If enough symptoms consistent with Crohn’s disease are present, a doctor may decide to perform additional tests to rule out other potential causes. To reach a Crohn’s disease diagnosis, a doctor may conduct an endoscopy, which is a procedure through which a camera and light can be inserted into the digestive tract to allow the doctor to see the inside of the patient. Other Crohn’s disease test methods include imaging studies involving radiography, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), or computed tomography (CT), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
What causes Crohn’s disease?
Nobody knows exactly what causes Crohn’s disease, but it occurs when the body’s immune system reacts abnormally, according to MedlinePlus.
What are some Crohn’s disease symptoms?
People with Crohn’s disease may experience the following Crohn’s disease symptoms:
- Stomachache, abdominal cramps or stabbing pain in the stomach
- Bleeding from the rectum
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
Some people think that there may be a connection between Crohn’s disease and life expectancy, where Crohn’s disease can reduce a patient’s life expectancy. However, a study published in 2013 in the National Institutes of Health showed no statistically significant difference between the life expectancy for people with Crohn’s disease and the life expectancy of people without it.
What different kinds of Crohn’s disease treatment are there?
Crohn’s disease can be an extremely unpleasant condition to live with. Though there’s no clear way for how to cure Crohn’s disease, according to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, patients have several treatment options:
- Medication — Crohn’s disease medications work by suppressing the immune system’s inflammatory response that causes many of the condition’s symptoms
- Diet and nutrition — Patients can adapt their diet for Crohn’s disease. Doing so can help reduce symptoms as well as replace nutrients that have been lost as a result of Crohn’s disease impacting the digestive system’s ability to absorb nutrients (diarrhea, loss of appetite, etc.). Eating bland and soft foods can also help the digestive system heal if there has been a flare-up, as they aren’t as harsh on the intestines as spicy foods or foods that are high in fiber.
- Surgery — Sometimes surgery becomes medically necessary if a problem happens in the bowels, such as an obstruction, a fissure, or a fistula. The diseased portion of the bowel is removed, and symptoms of Crohn’s disease may subside in the bowel for a time before the condition reappears.
- Stem cell therapy for Crohn’s disease — This is one of the new treatments for Crohn’s disease being offered in the area of regenerative medicine. Read the next section to learn more about the uses of stem cells to treat diseases such as Crohn’s disease.
How stem cells can help treat Crohn’s disease symptoms
According to an article published in the medical journal Clinical and Translational Gastroenterology, “stem cell therapy is emerging as a promising treatment alternative” that could avoid the pitfalls of medications, reduce the symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease, and reduce the need for surgery to treat Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
How do stem cells hold the key to Crohn’s disease treatment? Adult stem cells can be found circulating around inside our bodies, but they exist in particular abundance in our bone marrow and our adipose (fat) tissue. Stem cells also have a unique ability to produce or turn into whatever cells are needed to carry out repairs in the body: muscle cells, blood cells, tissue cells, etc. All that it takes to set this healing process in motion is to extract stem cells from one of the stores in a patient’s body, isolate the cells, and inject them back into the body wherever treatment is needed. The stem cells are then able to help repair and restore the cells and tissue at the injection site, leading to a potential reduction in pain and symptoms.
Stem cell therapy is not suitable for everyone, but it has shown promising results for a wide range of patients with various medical conditions. To learn more about stem cell therapy for Crohn’s disease and to find out whether you could be a candidate for this groundbreaking treatment, visit NSI Stem Cell today.