Crohn's disease: causes, symptoms and treatments of this inflammatory disease
What is Crohn's disease?
Crohn's disease is a chronic inflammation. It can touch the walls of the entire digestive tract, from the mouth to the anus. Most of the time, it reaches the colon as well as the terminal part of the small intestine that connects the stomach to the colon.
"The mechanisms of occurrence of Crohn's disease are still poorly understood. They involve genetic, immune and environmental factors" indicates the website of Ameli health insurance. Among them :
- A genetic predisposition (some gene mutations increase the risk of occurrence of the disease)
- An imbalance between the immune system and the intestinal microbiota (which induces an abnormal reaction and inflammation of the intestinal wall)
Crohn's disease is a condition characterized by alternating phases of activity variable intensity, say of outbreaks and phases without symptoms, say of remission. The symptoms make it difficult to diagnose Crohn's disease. Indeed, they are not very specific. They are especially digestive, but not only. Among them :
- Abdominal pain (spasms sometimes similar to those caused by appendicitis)
- Chronic diarrhea sometimes abundant and fluid
- Anal pain and / or discharge of mucus or blood through the anus
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Oral sores
- Eye damage (uveitis)
The disease is diagnosed during a push. To confirm the diagnosis, the doctor is surrounded by a multidisciplinary team whose composition varies according to each case: a gastroenterologist, radiologist, rheumatologist, ophthalmologist, surgeon ...
The patient will undergo a ileocolonoscopy performed under general anesthesia or sedation. This consists of introduce into the intestine through the anus a flexible tube with a small camera. The goal is to assess the extent of intestinal lesions of Crohn's disease.
The patient may also have recourse to a biology report with some blood tests, bacteriological and parasitological stool to look for an inflammatory syndrome, to evaluate the effects of Crohn's disease on the kidneys, the liver but also to eliminate an infection which can explain the digestive symptoms. Additional examinations such as MRI of the intestines may be prescribed for more difficult cases.
There is no treatment yet to cure Crohn's disease, however, we can cure the outbreaks, prevent relapse to contribute to the quality of life of the patient.
Several types of medications can be prescribed in Crohn's disease: the 5-ASA, oral medications that have an anti-inflammatory action, corticosteroids used during outbreaks, or azathioprine, used as a background treatment to achieve prolonged remission without corticosteroids. In some situations, doctors may prescribe antibiotics. A treatment surgical can be considered by the medical profession, in case of complications of the disease.
The meal without fibers are recommended for inflammatory flares caused by Crohn's disease so as not to accentuate symptoms. Thus, the dietitian can advise a diet adapted to meet the needs of the patient.