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Understanding Crohn’s Disease

Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease that causes inflammation in the digestive tract. Crohn’s can occur in any area of the digestive tract from mouth to anus, but most often affects the lower small intestine. 

Here’s what you need to know about Crohn’s Disease. 

Causes and Risk Factors

The cause of Crohn’s disease isn’t fully understood. It may be due to an abnormal immune response to a microorganism, where the immune system injures cells in the digestive tract. Heredity may also be a cause, as Crohn’s is more common for people with a family history of the disease. However, most people with the disease do not have a family history of it. 

There are some risk factors for Crohn’s that are important to be aware of too. Age plays a role- you are most likely to develop Crohn’s before the age of 30. Smoking can cause Crohn’s to increase in severity. Using NSAID’s like ibuprofen can cause inflammation in the bowels and worsen symptoms. Higher fat and processed foods seem to increase the odds of developing Crohns. Having a family member with Crohn’s is a significant risk factor as well- around 1 in 5 people with a family history of Crohn’s disease will develop it themselves. 

Symptoms

As a chronic disease, Crohn’s often affects people differently over time. Flare-ups and periods of remission are common. Disease severity varies widely, with cases ranging from mild to severe. In severe cases, Crohn’s can affect multiple layers of the intestine, while other times some layers may remain healthy. 

Some of the most common symptoms are persistent diarrhea, abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, an urgent need to defecate, weight loss, and a loss of appetite. More severe complications may develop from the disease. These include anal fissures, strictures, and fistulas. Crohn’s disease also increases the risk of colon cancer.

Diagnosis

Crohn’s disease is usually diagnosed after a process of ruling out other explanations for symptoms. Diagnostics are done through several types of testing. Blood tests can check for anemia or infection. A colonoscopy can provide a view of the colon and give the opportunity for tissue samples doctors can check for clusters of inflammatory cells. Additionally, an MRI, CT scan, capsule endoscopy, or balloon-assisted enteroscopy may be pursued depending on the situation. 

Treatment

Treating Crohn’s centers on reducing inflammation, increasing periods of remission, and decreasing flare-ups. Treatment plans vary based on each person’s situation. Several types of medication can help decrease inflammation, including aminosalicylates, corticosteriods, immunomodulators, and biologic therapies. Many of these medicines decrease inflammation by targeting and reducing aspects of the immune system. Another type of treatment for more severe Crohn’s is bowel rest. This can entail intravenous (IV) nutrition or a feeding tube over the course of days or weeks. 

Surgery is another common treatment for people with Crohn’s disease. While surgery won’t cure the disease, it can significantly improve symptoms and decrease complications. Surgical procedures can treat fistulas, internal obstructions, and life-threatening bleeding. Some procedures can even remove part of the small or large intestine. Sometimes patients need to have their entire colon and rectum removed through a surgery called a proctocolectomy. During this procedure, surgeons also create an opening in the abdomen called a stoma. A removable collection pouch (called an ostomy pouch) then collects stool outside of the body. 

While there is no cure for Crohn’s, there are a multitude of ways medical professionals can help people manage the disease and live healthier lives. 

Our experienced team at GHP has years of experience helping patients manage and treat Crohn’s disease. We can help you establish the best plan of care for your situation. Contact any of our office locations to learn about the options we offer and schedule an appointment today.

 

Louisville “Crohn’s and Colitis Take Steps” Walk Great Success!

Gastroenterology Health Partners’ first Louisville “Crohn’s and Colitis Take Steps” walk on Saturday, June 1st, 2019 was a great success and a lot of fun, as well!

Gastroenterology Health Partners sponsored the walk, alongside Takeda and University of Kentucky Healthcare. GHP also participated as a team under the name “Strollin’ for the Colon.” As a team, Gastroenterology Health Partners raised $693.00 for Crohn’s Disease and Colitis.

The walk team, “Strollin’ for the Colon”, included employees from Gastroenterology Health Partners:

  • Susan Becht
  • Kayla Kilburn
  • Shetwana Martin
  • Melissa Rainer
  • Deb Walker
  • Laura Yates
  • Rhonda Dase
  • Suzanne Mauck
  • Laura Sprinkle

The last three Gastroenterology Health Partners’ employees each raised over $100.00 for the cause.

The “Crohn’s and Colitis Take Steps Walk” is a nation-wide walking event that is put on by the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation to give support and offer resources to those suffering from Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).

The $693.00 raised by Gastroenterology Health Partners, plus additional funds raised by other participating teams, will go to helping fund patient services, education, advocacy, and research to improve the quality of life for those with IBD.

 

 

Crohn’s & Colitis Take Steps Walk

Join us Saturday, June 1st at the Louisville Slugger Field for the Crohn’s and Colitis Take Steps Walk!

Registration starts at 10am and the take steps walk will begin at 11am. This event is put on by the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, an organization whose mission it is to provide support and resources for those suffering from Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

The nationwide walk will help fund patient services, education, advocacy and research. Through better treatment methods and cures, we can ultimately improve the quality of life for those affected by IBD.

What is Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)?

IBD is a term used to describe disorders involving chronic inflammation of the digestive tract. Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis are two of the most common types of IBD. Crohn’s Disease affects the lining of the entire digestive tract. However, Ulcerative Colitis specifically inflames only the lining of the colon and rectum.

While the causes for Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis are currently unknown, combined they affect nearly 3.1 million Americans. Patients tend to be diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 35. The fast growing segment of patients are children under the age of 18. 

How to Get Involved:

The Crohn’s and Colitis Take Steps Walk is a great opportunity for patients, families, healthcare providers and organizations to come together as a community and offer lasting support to one another. For those interested in registering as a walker, donating, volunteering or creating a team of walkers, visit crohnscolitisfoundation.org for more information. Each team and individual is able to set their own fundraising goal. The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation’s goal for this event is $65,000.

The Gastroenterology Health Partners proudly sponsors this event. To schedule an appointment and get screened, contact us today! Additionally, the GHP clinicians have a passion for seeking out and refining new treatments and advanced solutions for those suffering from disorders of the digestive system.  If you believe you may be a candidate for one of our studies, please contact our Research Manager, Deborah Walker via email at dwalker@ghpartners.net or by phone at 812-206-1702.

take steps walk