Every year from December 1 to December 7, Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Week is commemorated. It aims to raise awareness on the difficulties people suffering from these illnesses encounter. Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the gastrointestinal tract, whereas ulcerative colitis affects only the colon or large intestine. However, both conditions are categorized as inflammatory bowel illnesses (IBD), which can result in severe cramping, agonizing discomfort, unexpected weight loss, and other life-altering symptoms.
IBD affects an estimated 1.6 million Americans, according to the most recent statistics. In fact, more than 70,000 new cases of IBD are diagnosed in the United States each year. Although Crohn’s and colitis are chronic diseases, symptoms can be controlled with medical treatment and lifestyle changes. Patients can enhance their general health by learning as much as they can about these conditions.
What Is Crohn’s Disease
Crohn’s disease is named after the clinician who originally reported it in 1932. Crohn’s disease can cause inflammation anywhere in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, from the mouth to the anus, but it is most commonly found in the lower small bowel and upper colon. Patches of inflammation can infiltrate the intestinal layers from inner to outer lining and spread out between healthy regions of the gut. Crohn’s disease can also affect the mesentery, a network of tissue that connects the small bowel to the abdomen and houses the main intestinal blood arteries and lymph glands. It affects around 500,000 Americans. Crohn’s disease often affects persons in their late teens, early twenties, or early thirties. This illness, however, can occur at any age. It affects both men and women equally. Crohn’s disease can also potentially affect children.
There is no known reason why people get Crohn’s disease. However, some things may make you more likely to get the condition, such as:
- Autoimmune disease – It’s possible that bacteria in your gut will make your immune system fight healthy cells.
- Genes – Often, people in the same family get inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Having a parent, child, or other family member with Crohn’s may make you more likely to get it yourself. People who have certain mutations (changes) in their genes may be more likely to get Crohn’s disease.
- Smoking – You’re two times more likely to get Crohn’s disease if you’re a smoker.
People with Crohn’s disease can have times when their symptoms are severe (called flare-ups) and times when they are not there at all or very mild (called remissions). You may be in remission for weeks or even years. It’s impossible to know when flare-ups will happen. Some of the signs that you might have Crohn’s disease are:
- Abdominal pain
- Chronic diarrhea.A feeling of fullness
- A loss of your appetite
- Weight loss
- Abnormal skin tags (usually on your buttocks)
- Anal fissures
- Anal fistulas
- Rectal bleeding
Types of Crohn’s Disease
Crohn’s disease is a blanket term, there are actually five types of crohn’s disease and they’re split up depending on what part of your digestive tract is affected.
Ileocolitis is the most typical variety of Crohn’s disease, in which the inflammation occurs in the small intestine or a portion of the large intestine. The symptoms emerge slowly and increase over time. In some circumstances, a patient may be pain-free for weeks or months before a significant flare-up occurs without warning.
The ileum, or the lower part of the small intestine, becomes inflamed with ileitis. Although ileitis is most commonly associated with Crohn’s disease, it can also be caused by other illnesses. Consuming contaminated food products can result in infectious ileitis. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs) can also harm the small intestine. Because ileitis can occur for reasons other than Crohn’s disease, it’s critical to see a gastroenterologist to determine the exact source of the inflammation and avoid costly delays and errors in treatment.
This is an uncommon type of Crohn’s disease that affects the stomach and the duodenum, which is a short C-shaped tissue that extends from the stomach. Abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting are the most prevalent symptoms. Chronic inflammation also causes scar tissue to develop, leading the stomach outlet to constrict. Chronic anemia can develop as a result of gastrointestinal blood loss in some circumstances. Endoscopy with biopsy may be recommended by your doctor to discover any abnormalities such as thickened folds and ulcerations in the duodenum in order to diagnose gastroduodenal Crohn’s disease.
This is an uncommon variant of Crohn’s disease in which the jejunum (middle part of the small intestine) becomes inflamed. Jejunoileitis is more common in people in their 20s. During the first year after being diagnosed with jejunoileitis, a surgical treatment called strictureplasty is frequently required. Long-term healing prospects are generally favorable following surgery, with anti-inflammatory medications assisting persons in remaining symptom-free.
Crohn’s colitis arises when a part or your entire colon gets inflamed. This often leads to bloody diarrhea and sores around the anus. When an ulcer grows beyond the intestinal wall, an irregular connection termed a fistula forms between the gut and another organ. Depending on the location, fistulas might restrict the bowel from absorbing food, although they frequently occur around the anal area. When a fistula becomes infected, an abscess occurs. An abscess is a pocket of infected fluid or pus surrounded by inflammatory tissue.
Most people with Crohn’s first see a doctor because they have diarrhea, stomach cramps, or weight loss that they can’t explain. Your doctor might order one or more of these tests to find out what’s wrong with you:
- Blood test – A blood test looks for lots of white blood cells, which could mean there is an infection or inflammation. Anemia, or having too few red blood cells, is also checked for by the test. About one-third of people who have Crohn’s disease also have anemia.
- Stool test – A small amount of your stool is used in this test to look for bacteria or parasites. It can rule out illnesses that cause diarrhea that doesn’t go away.
- Colonoscopy – Your doctor looks at the inside of your colon with an endoscope, which is a thin tube with a light and camera connected to it. A biopsy is a way for your doctor to get a piece of tissue from your gut to look for signs of inflammation.
- CT scan – The digestive system is shown on a CT scan. It lets your doctor know how bad the inflammation is in your intestines.
- GI endoscopy – An endoscope is a long, thin tube that your doctor puts through your mouth and into your throat. Your doctor can see inside because it has a camera linked to it. It’s possible for your doctor to take tissue samples during an upper endoscopy.
- Upper GI exam – X-ray images let your doctor watch as a barium liquid that you swallow moves through your digestive system during an upper GI exam.
How you are treated for Crohn’s disease depends on what is making your symptoms worse and why you have them. The goal of treatment for Crohn’s disease is to get you into remission, keep you in remission, and take care of any problems that come up over time. If you have Crohn’s disease, your doctor may suggest one or more of these treatments:
- Antibiotics – Antibiotics can help or stop infections. Infections can cause abscesses, which are pus-filled sacs. can also create fistulas, which are holes or tunnels that connect two organs that don’t usually go together.
- Anti-Diarrhea medication – Medications like imodium can be used to treat severe diarrhea caused by crohn’s.
- Biologics – Monoclonal antibodies are used in these medicines to lower the immune reaction.
- Bowel rest – In order to help your bowels heal, your doctor may tell you to not eat or drink for a few days or longer. To get the food you need, you might get it through an IV (parenteral feeding). During this time, you should only drink a certain juice or have a feeding tube.
- Corticosteroids – Other corticosteroids, like cortisone and prednisone, reduce the swelling that comes from having an inflammatory disease.
- Immunomodulators – By stopping the immune system from working too hard, these drugs calm inflammation.
- Surgery – Crohn’s disease can’t be cured with surgery, but it can help with complications. If your intestines have holes, blockages, or bleeding, you may need surgery to fix the problem.
What Is Colitis?
The colon is the main part of your large intestines. Colitis is swelling in the colon. The last part of your digestive system that food goes through is the intestines. The intestines can become inflamed, which can change how this journey ends, giving you pain, diarrhea, and sometimes blood in your poop. When you get an infection or hurt, your body’s reaction is inflammation. The tissues in your body swell and hurt because of it. Different kinds of colitis are caused by different things. There are some that only last a short time and are easy to treat, like a bacterial condition from eaten food. These are called inflammatory gut diseases, and they last longer and are harder to treat. When colitis doesn’t go away, it’s worse. Over time, a bad case can do a lot of damage to your colon. It makes your life less good too.
Symptoms vary depending on the type and severity of your condition but the common symptoms are:
- Abdominal pain
- Bloated stomach
- Urgent diarrhea
- Mucus or blood in your poop
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
Causes and Types
Depending on what type of colitis you have there are different causes.
An infection with a virus, a parasite, or bacteria can cause infectious colitis. Most of the time, Salmonella and E. coli are to blame. The main way most people get it is by eating or drinking water or food that is tainted. Most of the time, it only lasts a short time, but some people may need drugs to get better.
A certain type of bacteria called C. diff (clostridium difficile) is usually to blame for this type of colitis. It’s interesting that a lot of people get pseudomembranous colitis after taking medicines. The bacteria C. diff usually lives in your intestines, but some drugs kill off other bacteria that keep it in check, which lets C. diff get too big.
Babies who are fed breast milk can get allergic colitis. It’s caused by intolerances to foods, most often to soy milk or dairy milk (lactose intolerance). Proteins that people who breastfeed give to their kids through breast milk.
Ischemic colitis can happen if your intestines don’t get enough blood. This is called intestinal ischemic syndrome. A blood clot, an aneurysm, or atherosclerosis (a buildup of plaque) can block your blood vessels and cause ischemia.
Inflammatory Bowel Diseases
IBD stands for inflammatory bowel diseases, which are a group of conditions that make your gut swell and hurt all the time. Some of these are Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and microscopic colitis. This condition doesn’t have a clear cause. They are thought to be a type of autoimmune disease, which means they mess up your immune system and make it fight its own tissues. Autoimmune diseases seem to be caused by both genes and things in the surroundings.
It can happen after getting radiation treatment, which is used to treat some types of cancer. It’s usually only brief, but some people have symptoms that last for a long time.
Some people who have had a colostomy can get diverticulitis as a side effect. This takes place in the stomach part that isn’t being used. Doctors think that if you move your stool away from that part of your bowel, the cells there might not get some nutrients they need to stay healthy. Some people get implications from it, but not many.
When you have serious, long-term, chronic colitis, you usually end up with complications. Some of them are:
When you have chronic inflammation, the walls of your colon get weaker, which makes them more likely to break. If you have an ulcer in your colon, it could wear a hole all the way through. This could let bacteria from your gut get into your abdominal cavity (peritonitis) and maybe even your bloodstream (septicemia), which can lead to sepsis.
When your inflammation is very bad, the walls of your colon can dilate (widen), which can stop its normal muscle contractions (peristalsis). This can block your large intestine and keep food and gas inside. Because of obstruction, the abdomen swells and hurts, and the risk of injury goes up.
Increased Risk Of Colon Cancer
When you have inflammation for a long time, your colon wall’s cells change, and these changes can sometimes turn into cancerous changes. After ten years of having severe colitis, the risk goes up very quickly.
Increased Risk Of Inflammatory Diseases
It’s more likely for people who have inflammatory bowel diseases to also have inflammatory diseases in other parts of their bodies. Osteoarthritis (inflammation of the joints) and primary sclerosing cholangitis (inflammation of the liver and bile tubes) are two examples. It looks like inflammation that isn’t under control in one place could start a similar process in another place.
Inflammatory diseases in other parts of the body are more likely to happen to people who have inflammatory illnesses in their thighs. One example is osteoarthritis, which is inflammation of the joints, and the other is primary sclerosing cholangitis, which is inflammation of the liver and bile tubes. It looks like inflammation that isn’t under control in one area could cause the same thing to happen in another.
How you treat colitis depends on what kind it is and what caused it. It could be:
- Medications – To treat infections, your doctor may give you antibiotics, corticosteroids, immune modifiers, or aminosalicylates. To treat inflammation, corticosteroids, immune modifiers, or immune modifiers.
- Diet – A low-fiber, easy-to-digest diet may help you if you have short-term, severe colitis. If you have chronic colitis, you might need a food plan that is just for you. You might need to stay away from foods that make your colitis worse and eat other foods or take pills to make sure you get enough nutrition.
- Surgery – Some types of colitis, like necrotizing enterocolitis, ischemic colitis, and IBD, can lead to problems that may need surgery to fix. Even though surgery doesn’t always cure these conditions, it may be needed to stop the bleeding, fix a hole, or clear out a blockage.
Find A Plan With EZ
We know that being told you have Crohn’s or Colitis can be scary and stressful. You will have to make big changes in order to manage your chronic condition. . It also means that you have to take care of your health all the time. Your health insurance should pay for all of your new treatments and the things you’ll need to deal with your problems.
It is possible to get the insurance you need with EZ.Insure. Our qualified agents work with the best insurance companies across the country to find you the best rates based on your needs and budget. Take advantage of this completely free service and let us take the stress away from having to search for the right insurance. Just type your zip code into the box above, or give us a call at 877-670-3557.