Could You Have Crohn's Disease?
Every year, an estimated 30,000 Americans are diagnosed with Crohn's disease. However, many people are uninformed about the disease and, as a result, may go undiagnosed. Here, find out about the symptoms, diagnostic methods, and treatments of Crohn's disease, so you can have a better understanding of the condition.
What is Crohn's Disease?
Crohn's disease is one of two inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs); the other is ulcerated colitis. The Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) estimates that IBDs affect approximately 1 million Americans, with Crohn's making up about half of that population. Crohn's and colitis should not be confused with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which is a common condition in which the intestines cause food to move too quickly or too slowly through the digestive system.
How Can Crohn's Affect Me?
Crohn's disease is a chronic (ongoing) disorder that results in the inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract and intestines. Common symptoms include:
1. Persistent diarrhea;
2. Abdominal cramping after meals;
3. Severe weight loss;
4. Decrease in appetite;
5. Abdominal pain;
6. Low-grade fever;
7. Rectal bleeding; and
8. Flatulence (gas).
If Crohn's goes undiagnosed for an extended period of time, the symptoms can result in malnutrition due to inadequate dietary intake and poor absorption of nutrients. Vomiting and intestinal ulcers can also occur.
How Can I Find Out If I Have It?
No single test can diagnose Crohn's disease with absolute certainty. Most patients are diagnosed through a series of tests that include a combination of information from the patient's history and physical exams, such as the results of X-rays and endoscopy and pathology tests. A doctor may look at your colon and rectum with a sigmoidoscope or a colonoscope.
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