Crohn’s disease is a rare digestive condition, affecting only 90,000 people in the UK. It is a chronic condition that causes the organs and structures in the digestive system to become inflamed; commonly, the ileum and colon are affected but inflammation may occur anywhere in the system.
What causes Crohn’s disease?
The cause of Crohn’s disease remains unknown, although there is evidence to support a link between family history and genetics and Crohn’s disease. Additional factors that may contribute to Crohn’s disease may also include a problem with the immune system and environmental factors.
Symptoms of Crohn’s disease
The most common symptoms of Crohn’s disease include:
- Frequent diarrhoea
- Loss of weight
- Abdominal pains and cramps
- Presence of blood and mucus in the faeces
Other symptoms which may present but are less common include:
- Pain in the joints and muscles
- Development of rashes
- Swollen, itchy eyes
Treating Crohn’s disease
There is currently no cure for Crohn’s disease but there are treatments to make the symptoms more manageable; these include:
- Medication to control inflammation, including steroids (these are only used to treat the active disease that is causing problems as long-term use may result in a number of unpleasant side-effects
- Medication to suppress the immune system: this is used to reduce inflammation on a long-term basis
- Surgery: surgery is used to remove the inflamed component of the digestive system; this is carried out when other treatments have failed. Most Crohn’s sufferers (80 percent) end up having surgery.