Crohn’s disease is a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that attacks different areas of or even the entire digestive tract. The condition causes chronic inflammation, resulting in persistent abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, fatigue, and weight loss, among other distressing symptoms.
Read on to learn about who is most likely to get Crohn’s disease and what to do if you’re experiencing symptoms of the condition.
People Most at Risk of Developing Crohn’s Disease
Experts haven’t clearly established the risk factors for Crohn’s disease, but suggest that age, cigarette smoking, ethnicity, and family history could contribute to its development.
Studies have shown that the disease is most prevalent in adolescents and adults up to 30 years of age as well as in White people and Ashkenazi Jews. In recent years, the prevalence of Crohn’s disease among Asians and Hispanics has also significantly increased.
Additionally, there’s evidence that one in five people living with the condition has a family member (child, parent, or sibling) who also has the disease. Nonetheless, it is impossible to predict a person’s risk based on family history alone.
Among the ones mentioned, cigarette smoking is the most important modifiable risk factor for Crohn’s disease: active smokers have double the risk of developing it compared to nonsmokers. Smoking is linked to poor treatment outcomes and increased flare-ups among people who have Crohn’s disease.
What to Do if You Are at Risk
If you’re experiencing the symptoms mentioned above, consult a gastrointestinal (GI) specialist for a comprehensive evaluation and prompt treatment. Delaying intervention can increase your risk of suffering from potentially life-threatening complications, such as colon cancer.
To confirm a diagnosis and rule out the other potential culprits in your symptoms, your GI specialist will likely order a combination of tests, such as blood work, stool studies, MRI, colonoscopy, and endoscopy (either capsule or balloon-assisted).
Based on their findings, your GI specialist will craft a treatment plan not to cure Crohn’s disease but to mitigate your symptoms and help you achieve long-term remission. Your treatment plan will likely be a combination of medications (e.g., immune system suppressors, biologic drugs (drugs that stop damaging inflammation, antibiotics), and nutrition therapy. In severe cases, your GI specialist may recommend surgery to remove the damaged portion/s of your digestive tract and reconnect the healthy ones. Your doctor may also do surgery to drain abscesses and close fistulas.
Crohn’s Disease Treatment in Westlake and Brooklyn, OH
At North Shore Gastroenterology & Endoscopy Centers, our board-certified GI specialists combine their expertise and extensive experience with advanced technology to provide highly effective solutions for the full range of gastrointestinal conditions, including both types of inflammatory bowel disease.
To see one of our GI specialists for a consultation, call us at (440) 808-1212, or simply fill out this secure form, and our staff will contact you to schedule your appointment. We look forward to helping you get on the path to complete remission!