Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel condition that can affect any part of your digestive tract. However, it’s most commonly found in the lower part of the small intestine or colon. About 700,000 people in the U.S. are affected by Crohn’s disease. Doctors aren’t sure what causes it, but experts believe it’s a combination of genetics, your environment and an overactive immune system.
Symptoms include fatigue, abdominal pain, diarrhea (sometimes 10 – 20 times a day), weight loss, mouth sores, bowel blockages and anal fissures. You may experience mild symptoms or go for a long time without noticing any symptoms. Some people have ongoing severe symptoms.
Crohn’s disease can lead to other complications, such as ulcers and problems with absorbing enough nutrients to keep you healthy. Some people also experience joint pain and skin problems.
Your doctor will likely ask you about your symptoms and conduct a physical exam. Your doctor may also order imaging tests, lab tests and a colonoscopy to determine if you have Crohn’s. If you do, your Mercy doctor will develop a treatment plan that helps keep your Crohn’s disease in check so you don’t have to worry about embarrassing symptoms interrupting your life.
While there’s no cure for Crohn’s, there are things you can do to keep it under control. Medicine is the most common form of treatment. There are over-the-counter options available but talk to your doctor before taking any. If your doctor prescribes medicine, be sure to follow the instructions closely. Exercising and eating healthy is recommended. Avoid smoking because that makes Crohn’s disease worse.
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