Crohn's Disease Symptoms: Should You Consult a Doctor?
Per the latest U.S. Census, just over one million Americans are living with Crohn’s Disease. Though each case is different, most patients experience similar challenges throughout their journey. Symptom flares consisting of multiple loose stools per day with abdominal cramping and sometimes blood become commonplace and often consume every aspect of a patient’s life. In addition to the discomfort, many feel embarrassed and isolated as if no one really understands what they are going through.
Crohn’s Disease is a chronic inflammatory disorder that can be located throughout the digestive tract. It is not currently curable, and most treatments are focused on controlling and alleviating symptoms while decreasing inflammation in the gut. For many, Crohn’s Disease may progress from inflammation in the gut to scarring called strictures and disease that may penetrate through the gut. For this reason, it is important for patients to speak with their doctor and understand their individual risk of progression. Understanding your risk of disease progression will help your doctor tailor their treatment approach to your individual needs.
The cause of Crohn’s disease is unknown. It appears to arise due to a complex interaction involving the genetic makeup of the individual patient and numerous potential environmental influences such as the bacteria that normally inhabit the gut. There may be external environmental triggers as well such as infections or other exposures. Whatever the cause this interaction leads to immune stimulation that inappropriately attacks and injures the small and large intestines. While stress and dietary factors can increase symptoms they do not seem to be causative and unfortunately dietary modifications do not lead to resolution of the inflammation.
Signs and Symptoms
Most people will experience bloating, gas, and abdominal discomfort from time to time. These symptoms, oftentimes are not Crohn’s Disease but when combined with other symptoms like weight loss, blood in the stool, associated skin rashes, joint pains or laboratory abnormalities such as anemia or elevated inflammatory markers then Crohn’s disease may be more likely.
Here are a few common Crohn’s Disease symptoms:
- Abdominal pain/ cramping
- Bloody stools
- Mouth sores
- Reduced appetite
- Weight loss
Patients who have a more severe case of the disease may experience inflammation in the eyes, skin, and joints. Severe Crohn’s can also cause inflammation in the liver and bile ducts. In children, the disease can affect growth and development.
Should You See a Doctor?
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, you should consult your doctor. The definitive diagnosis of Crohn’s Disease is made through endoscopy. Here your doctor can assess the degree of inflammation in your gut and get some idea about how your disease may progress.
Living with Crohn’s disease is possible, and managing the symptoms through effective treatment is a smart solution. If you are experiencing Crohn’s disease symptoms or other digestive disorders, contact the professional team at Texas Digestive Disease Consultants today. Visit https://www.tddctx.com/ for more information.
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