Crohn’s disease is a long-term Inflammatory Bowel Disease, and is often characterised with severe abdominal pain, weight loss, diarrhoea and sometimes malnutrition.
First termed in 1932, Crohn’s disease is a globally emerging disease with Australian having one of the highest prevalence in the world. More than 80,000 Australians are currently living with this chronic condition and the numbers are only expected to increase from year to year.
Due to its unpredictable and debilitating nature, people with Crohn’s disease often find themselves emotionally, physically and socially impacted.
Although not life-threatening, it can still wreak havoc anywhere in the GI tract that can lead to severe, perhaps fatal complications.
There is no cure, but through management and careful treatment, it is possible to minimise the symptoms and live an active life.
There are 8 important things you should know about Crohn’s disease:
1. Crohn’s disease can occur at any age
Crohn’s disease generally appears at younger age – typically individuals in their 20s and 30s. But it can also happen at any age affecting both men and women equally.
Children and teens are usually at a higher risk for Crohn’s disease, and its risk can heighten if they have a family history of the disease.
2. Crohn’s disease is largely unpredictable
There is a significant variation in its pattern and degree of symptoms affecting people. It is also possible that some people may have no symptoms for a long time, even years. This is called remission.
There is no way someone will know when remission may occur or when the symptoms will return, making Crohn’s disease highly unpredictable.
3. No one know what exactly causes Crohn’s disease
No studies have yet proven what causes Crohn’s disease, however a combination of factors like genetics, environmental factors such as pollution, exposure to chemicals, diet and an unpredictable immune reaction are to be blamed.
At the same time, there is no evidence that a specific diet or life stressor can trigger Crohn’s disease.
4. It is highly unlike to die from Crohn’s disease
According to Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, it is highly unlikely to die with this condition. However, Crohn’s disease can cause several serious, potentially life-threatening health complications.
Which is why, people with Crohn’s disease are advised to keep an eye on their symptoms, especially flare-ups, so they can get medical help as quickly as possible.
5. Colorectal cancer is a major life-threatening complication of Crohn’s disease
People with Crohn’s disease are at a higher risk of developing colorectal cancer.
The inflammation due to the condition can cause continuous turnover of the cells in the inner lining of the colon. This in turn causes irregularities that may lead to colorectal cancer.
Anyone with Crohn’s disease must visit their doctors for routine screening for colorectal cancer.
6. Crohn’s disease can emotionally drain you
The chronic nature and remission of the symptoms can impact a patient’s mental health and social-wellbeing. Often developing at a younger age, it continues to affect people throughout their life without any cure.
Because of its unpredictable and continuous nature, it can affect a patient’s quality of life requiring multiple visits to doctors, continuous vigilance to flare-ups and screenings for other diseases.
Infact, depression is found to be higher in patients with Crohn’s disease as compared to other people with other diseases.
7. Crohn’s disease has no cure but many treatments
Unfortunately, medical science has not found a cure yet. However, Crohn’s disease is treated with a variety of medicines including a surgery.
Most of the treatments are aimed at controlling the different parts of the immune system that leads to increased inflammation and other systems.
On the other hand, surgery is used when medications are not enough. Many people with Crohn’s disease undergo surgery at some point in their life, however surgeries are only temporary solutions.
8. But, early detection is the best treatment
Crohn’s disease can be best treated when diagnosed as early as possible.
It has become more controllable than ever now to lead a healthy and normal life.
Once you’re aware of your condition, your doctor can help you get the right course of action for better treatment.