Crohn’s disease is best described as an inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract. This condition typically affects the end of the small bowel and the beginning of the colon. However, it may affect any part of the GI tract. Symptoms vary and often times overlap with those of other conditions, but there are still distinct symptoms that are characteristic of Crohn’s disease. These include:
- Persistent Diarrhea
- Sensation of Incomplete Evacuation
- Urgent Need to Move Bowels
- Cramping and Abdominal Pain
- Unintentional Weight Loss
Testing and Diagnosis of Crohn’s Disease
A combination of exams, lab tests, and image analysis will be necessary to offer a proper diagnosis of Crohn’s disease. The main objectives of these processes will be to:
- Factor Out Other Potential Health Problems
- Establish a Clear Crohn’s Disease Diagnosis
- Identify Where Exactly the Digestive Tract has Been Affected by the Disease
The process begins with a history and physical evaluation to discover more about the patient’s health history. Findings that could warrant additional testing for Crohn’s disease include diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain, and a family history of Crohn’s disease.
Should a patient’s symptoms indicate potential for Crohn’s disease, the doctor will request lab testing. A series of tests will then be administered to look for signs of infection, inflammation, internal bleeding, and low levels of protein and minerals. Lab testing for Crohn’s may include the following test types:
- Complete blood count
- Stool sample Testing
- Blood tests for inflammatory markers
- Metabolic profile which assesses your nutritional status, liver function and kidney function
Image testing for Crohn’s disease involves X-rays and other internal images to identify signs of the disease along the gastrointestinal tract, from the mouth to the rectum. Image testing for Crohn’s can include the following:
- Video Capsule Endoscopy
- CT Scans
- Barium X-Rays and Other X-Rays
- Colonoscopy and/or Endoscopy
If testing permits proper diagnosis of Crohn’s disease, the physician will work with the patient to create a plan that includes the most effective treatment options for the individual and their unique condition. There is no standard treatment for Crohn’s. No single treatment course will apply to every patient and remain successful. Each patient will be experiencing a different situation that calls for a different approach. Treatment options that may be included in a patient’s treatment process include:
Medication for Crohn’s disease aims to suppress the body’s inflammatory response. This provides relief from common symptoms and allows internal tissues to heal.
- Diet and Nutritional Changes
Maintaining good, overall nutritional habits will help to reduce symptoms, replace lost nutrients, and promote healing. Proper nourishment is essential to patients with Crohn’s disease as it often causes a reduction in appetite and can reduce the body’s ability to absorb protein, fat, carbohydrates, water, vitamins, and minerals. The physician will work with the patient to determine meal plans and track progress throughout treatment.
While proper diet and medication can alleviate symptoms, surgery may still be necessary for Crohn’s patients. Although surgery cannot completely cure the disease, it is able to conserve portions of the patient’s GI tract to help them find the highest quality of life possible.
Crohn’s surgery often involves the removal of the diseased bowel. From here, two ends of the healthy bowel are joined. This is necessary when medications can no longer control symptoms or if fistulas or intestinal obstruction develop. Surgery may cause symptoms to disappear for many years, however, Crohn’s may recur.
At Granite Peaks, we have offices in Salt Lake and Utah Counties to conveniently serve you and assist you with your symptoms and treatment.