According to a recent press release, Dr. Shawn Khodadadian of Manhattan Gastroenterology noted that more patients are being treated for Crohn’s disease now than ever before. This increase is most likely the result of more official diagnoses of CD, thanks to a greater awareness of the disease among the general public. With the rise in CD diagnoses, more and more people are seeking to learn more about how the disease is identified.
Crohn’s disease (CD), together with ulcerative colitis (UC), are the two most common types of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). The disease is estimated to affect 1.4 million Americans and is characterized by inflammation of the intestinal tract — including mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine (colon), rectum, and anus.
Dr. Shawn Khodadadian highlighted the most common CD symptoms, which include blood in the stool and abdominal pain associated with diarrhea and fever. Other complications can occur as well, such as reduced appetite and weight loss, pain or tenderness in the abdomen, fatigue, and ulcers in the gastrointestinal tract.
While the majority of signs and symptoms occur in the gastrointestinal tract, CD can also affect other body parts, leading to arthritis, osteoporosis, skin rash, mouth sores, nutrient malabsorption, and gallstones.
Since confirming a CD diagnosis can be difficult, Crohn’s disease specialists may need to conduct multiple exams to collect all of the information necessary for an accurate diagnosis. These tests can include imaging exams, such as a colonoscopy (helping to determine which part of the digestive tract is affected), complemented by radiological and blood tests (usually, blood test can identify complications related to CD such as anemia as a result of blood loss). In general, the complementary test will determine signs of infection, inflammation, internal bleeding, and low levels of substances such as iron, blood cell counts, protein, or mineral levels.
Dr. Khodadadian added that CD treatment is patient-oriented, so no general treatment can be applied to all patients. Thus, treatment is specific for each patient and must be followed for each circumstance.
While currently there is no cure for the disease, CD therapeutics include lifestyle changes, such as alterations in diet and nutrition, together with medication. In cases of partial or full blockage of the intestine, surgery is necessary to remove affected portions of the gastrointestinal tract.