Crohn's disease is a chronic inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract. This autoimmune disease causes your body to attack your small intestine or colon, resulting in noticeable and sometimes debilitating symptoms. Common signs of Crohn’s disease include abdominal pain, ulcers in multiple locations, and rectal bleeding. At Colon and Rectal Surgical Specialists of New York, we will evaluate the symptoms of Crohn’s disease. Then the doctors at our Garden City, NY, office or one of our other area locations can determine the most effective ways to treat those symptoms. Although there is no cure for Crohn’s disease, appropriate care can minimize the effects so that you can enjoy a full and active lifestyle.
What Causes Crohn’s Disease Symptoms?
Your immune system sends out white blood cells that search for invading foreign bodies. If you suffer from Crohn’s disease, your immune system mistakes your own digestive tract for an invader. In response, it will trigger inflammation. Normally, inflammation will help to destroy bacteria and other harmful substances. However, when you have Crohn’s, the inflammation will affect the inner lining of your intestines. Crohn’s disease can impact any part of your gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Nonetheless, the most commonly affected areas are the colon and the last part of the small intestine (the ileum).
While there is no complete cure for Crohn’s disease, appropriate care can often cause it to go into remission. At this point, symptoms will become much more manageable.
Both men and women suffer from this type of inflammatory bowel disease. The condition is most likely to manifest between the ages of 15 and 35, but it can appear at any age.
Common Signs of Crohn’s Disease
Crohn’s disease symptoms can vary widely, depending on the severity of your condition and the affected portion of your GI tract. These signs can include:
- Frequent diarrhea
- Abdominal pain and cramping
- Weight loss
- Anemia (and accompanying symptoms, such as fatigue, headache, and shortness of breath)
- Intestinal obstruction (often detected through a colonoscopy or flexible sigmoidoscopy)
- Ulcers (also found via colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy)
- Rectal bleeding
- Decreased appetite
- Sores on your gums
In some cases, Crohn’s symptoms can also affect other parts of your body. Such systemic effects include joint pain and inflammation, skin ulcers, and eye irritation. Doctors are not exactly sure what causes these seemingly unrelated problems. However, they do know that getting GI inflammation under control can lessen the additional symptoms.
How We Can Treat Your Crohn’s Disease Symptoms
While there is no complete cure for Crohn’s disease, appropriate care can often cause it to go into remission. At this point, symptoms will become much more manageable. Like some patients, you could go for years without experiencing a flare-up. The most appropriate treatment for you will depend on the severity of your Crohn’s disease and the frequency of your flares. Often, medications can reduce inflammation and diminish your symptoms. To ease initial inflammation, your doctor may recommend bowel rest. Intravenous feeding will give your intestines a respite and time to heal. Afterwards, we may suggest dietary changes, cutting down on your intake of fibrous and hard-to-digest foods. As a last resort, your doctor may perform surgery. Through various procedures, he or she can eliminate obstructions, widen your intestines, or remove severely inflamed sections of your colon.
With sensitivity and discretion, we will determine the most appropriate treatment for you. Our physicians are highly trained and capable of performing advanced surgery. However, they will always begin with the most conservative option possible.
Contact Us for the Care You Deserve
If you are suffering from the symptoms of Crohn’s disease, our doctors can often help you achieve long-lasting and dramatic relief. Contact one of our offices today to schedule a consultation.