About Crohn's Disease
Crohn's disease is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes inflammation of the digestive tract, which can lead to scarring, tissue damage, and increased thickness of the bowel wall. This inflammation can occur anywhere along the gastrointestinal tract from the mouth to the anus, but it most commonly surfaces at the end of the small intestine and throughout the large intestine with gaps between damaged and healthy tissue. Since the condition is chronic, patients with Crohn's disease will often go through periods of flare-up and remission, interchanging between the two over the course of their lives. This condition can produce symptoms that are incredibly painful and can be potentially debilitating or even life-threatening if treatment is not sought out. Sufferers of the disease most commonly experience abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, unexpected weight loss, and cramps. While there is no cure for Crohn's disease currently, our team of board-certified surgeons at Houston Colon and Rectal Surgery can manage your symptoms with certain medications, nutrition therapy, or surgery to minimize the intensity of flare-ups and improve the quality of lives of men and women living with the disorder. Contact one of our North Houston or West Houston, TX offices to learn more about the management of Crohn's disease and your options to live a happier life.
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Signs and Symptoms
The majority of those who have Crohn's disease will be diagnosed between the ages of 15 – 30, but the condition can develop in patients of any age. Although there are no definitively known causes of the disorder right now, specialists and researchers are currently considering hereditary factors and immune system disorders as a possible link. Crohn's disease occurs more commonly in patients with a family history of the disorder.
While it can affect each patient differently, sufferers of the condition often share common signs and symptoms, such as:
- Severe diarrhea
- Abdominal pain
- Mouth sores
- Fatigue or extreme tiredness
- Blood in the stool
- Unexpected weight loss
- Development of fistulas or abscesses
Environmental factors, such as stress and diet, can aggravate one's symptoms.
What to Expect
The diagnostic process of Crohn's disease can take time because there is no definitive test for the condition, and it is typically diagnosed only when other possibilities for your symptoms have been ruled out. Every patient who visits our North Houston or West Houston, TX practice experiencing severe bowel issues and pain will first receive a physical examination, during which one of our surgeons will check for bloating, listen to your abdomen, and assess your medical history, as well as your family's. We will also likely take samples of your blood to test for anemia or infection, as well as a stool sample to determine whether blood is present. At some point during the diagnostic process, you will probably receive a colonoscopy, endoscopy, CT scan, or x-rays so we can view the internal condition of your intestines and check for fistulas, abscesses, blockages, or bowel wall thickening. If it's deemed necessary, one of our surgeons may biopsy some tissue from your colon.
If you're diagnosed with Crohn's disease, our skilled colorectal surgeons will work with you to determine the best course of treatment. While there is currently no cure for the disorder, your symptoms can be managed with personalized treatments and attentive specialist care. The first step to addressing Crohn's disease typically involves the use of anti-inflammatory drugs, like corticosteroids or aminosalicylates, as well as antibiotics to reduce infection. Other medications, such as antidiarrheal, pain relievers, supplements for iron, calcium, and Vitamin D, along with Vitamin B-12 shots may be incorporated into your treatment as well to manage pain, reduce diarrhea, and provide you with nutrients you may be missing. Along with medications, our surgeons may also supply you with a personalized diet plan. You could temporarily receive nutrition therapy intravenously to give your bowel a rest while still receiving the necessary nutrients.
Nearly three-quarters of patients who have Crohn's disease will require surgery at some point in their life. While surgery will not nullify your condition, it can be helpful to remove severely damaged or harmful tissue, address fissures, drain abscesses, or clear blockages. Typically, our surgeons will remove a portion of the diseased intestinal tract and reattach the healthy tissues. This can relieve some of your pain and symptoms, allowing you to live a more comfortable life.
MANAGEMENT FOR CROHN'S DISEASE
At Houston Colon and Rectal Surgery, our experienced specialists take great care to assess your symptoms and discover the cause of your colorectal issues. If you're diagnosed with Crohn's disease, our team will work closely with you to manage your symptoms so you can live a healthy and more comfortable life. If extreme abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, or any other occurrences are preventing you from enjoying your life to the fullest, contact one of our North Houston or West Houston, TX offices and get the answers and solutions you've been searching for.