Digestive

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Chron’s Disease


Chron's Disease


Crohn’s disease is a long-term condition that causes inflammation of the lining of the digestive system. Inflammation can affect any part of the digestive system, from the mouth to the back passage, but most commonly occurs in the last section of the small intestine (ileum) or the large intestine (colon).


Cause & Risk


The precise cause of Crohn's disease is unknown. However it is likely due to an abnormal response of the immune system. Genes and environmental factors are also believed to play a part. Jewish people of European descent (Ashkenazi) are at greater risk for the disease. While Crohn's disease can affect people of all ages, it is primarily an illness of the young. Most people are diagnosed before reaching 30 years old, but the disease can occur in people in their sixties, seventies or later in life.



Symptoms


The symptoms of Crohn's disease depend on where the disease occurs in the bowel and its severity. In general symptoms can include: Chronic diarrhoea, often bloody and containing mucus or pus Weight loss Fever, abdominal pain and tenderness Feeling of a mass or fullness in the abdomen Rectal bleeding Other symptoms can develop, depending on complications related to the disease. For example a person with a fistula (abnormal passageway between various organs or tissues) in the rectal area may have pain and leaking discharge around the rectum. Severe inflammation and obstruction of various parts of the gastrointestinal tract due to swelling and scar formation can cause other problems such as bowel perforation, abdominal distension (swelling), severe pain and fever. This can be life threatening.



Diagnosis & Treatment


A variety of diagnostic procedures and laboratory tests are used to distinguish Crohn's disease from other inflammatory gastrointestinal conditions such as ulcerative colitis. First your doctor will review your medical history. A specialist called a gastroenterologist may perform a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy to obtain bowel tissue for analysis. Other tests your health care provider may order include: Blood tests including blood tests. Stool samples to rule out infections as the cause of diarrhoea. Special X-rays of both the upper and lower gastrointestinal (GI) tract may be arranged as well to confirm the location of the inflammation.



Treatment: There is currently no cure for Crohn’s disease so the aims of treatment are to stop the inflammatory process, relieve symptoms (induce and maintain remission), and avoid surgery wherever possible. The first treatment offered to reduce symptoms is usually steroid medication (corticosteroids). If this doesn't help, medication to suppress the immune system (immunosuppressants) and medication to reduce inflammation may be used. In some cases, surgery may be needed to remove the inflamed section of intestine. Once your symptoms are under control (in remission), further medication may be needed to help maintain this.



Recommended Links



NHS website on Chron's Disease, click here: http://bit.ly/1aIUzNp



For more information on digestive diseases, click on the following link: http://bit.ly/1abQMFH

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