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
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.