Crohn's disease, also known as regional enteritis, is an inflammatory disease of the intestines that may affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract from mouth to anus, causing a wide variety of symptoms.Researchers have not yet identified the cause of Crohn's disease, so it is described as an "idiopathic" disease.There is no known pharmaceutical or surgical cure for Crohn's disease.Treatment options are restricted to controlling symptoms, maintaining remission, and preventing relapse.Symptoms:
It primarily causes abdominal pain, diarrhea (which may be bloody if inflammation is at its worst), vomiting, or weight loss,but may also cause complications outside the gastrointestinal tract such as skin rashes, arthritis, inflammation of the eye, tiredness, and lack of concentration.Diagnosis:
Historically, Crohn's disease has been difficult to diagnose. In part, this is because its symptoms are similar to those of other bowel disorders, including ulcerative colitis and irritable bowel syndrome.Sigmoidoscopy is a procedure that allows the doctor to directly examine the lining of the rectum and lower portion of the colon.Colonoscopy is similar to sigmoidoscopy, but the much longer colonoscope allows the doctor to thoroughly examine the entire colon (advancing from the rectum to the terminal ileum, the end of the small intestine).If Crohn's disease is limited to the small intestine, a colonoscopy will not detect the disease. However, Crohn's disease can almost always be detected on x-rays after barium is swallowed. X-rays taken after barium is given by enema can reveal the characteristic appearance of Crohn's disease in the large intestine.Treatment:
There is no permanent cure for crohn's.Treatment of mild to moderate Crohn's disease often begins with aminosalicylates (such as sulfasalazine or mesalamine), which help prevent inflammation.Antibiotics (ciprofloxacin or metronidazole) will probably be tried if aminosalicylates don't help your symptoms. Antibiotics are also useful for some complications of Crohn's disease and are used to treat fistulas.Corticosteroids may be added if symptoms continue. Corticosteroids usually stop symptoms and put the disease in remission. But they are not used as long-term treatment to keep symptoms from coming back.Stronger treatment with medicines that suppress the immune system (such as azathioprine [AZA], 6-mercaptopurine [6-MP], and methotrexate) may be needed to help keep the disease in remission.Research:
An international team of researchers has identified four genetic variants common to celiac disease and Crohn's disease.The research may help to explain why people who have celiac disease appear to have a higher rate of Crohn's disease than the general population. It may one day lead to new treatments that address the underlying inflammation involved in both conditions.