Everything You Should Know About Crohn’s Disease

The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation defines Crohn’s disease as “an inflammatory bowel disease that causes chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract.” This debilitating disease affects approximately 780,000 Americans. Crohn’s disease is oftentimes misdiagnosed as ulcerative colitis; however, that disease only affects the large intestine. 

By contrast, Crohn’s disease can affect any part of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. This serious condition can greatly hinder your ability to live a normal life, but Crohn’s disease can go into remission with an effective treatment regiment. Remission can provide a short reprieve from this condition lasting a few days or long-term relief that keeps you feeling healthy and happy for years. 

If you are suffering from Crohn’s disease, Whalen Clark, M.D., the leading GI surgeon in Tampa, can provide you with the compassionate treatment you deserve. Dr. Clark provides his patients with individualized care catering to their health needs and lifestyle. Starting with a one-on-one consultation and lasting through surgery and recovery, Dr. Clark has helped countless patients overcome GI diseases in the Tampa Bay area.

Types of Crohn’s Disease

There are many types of Crohn’s disease that can impact a person’s GI health. Depending on the part of your GI tract that is afflicted, your symptoms will differ. The most common types of Crohn’s disease include:

  • Ileocolitis: the most common form of Crohn’s disease, it is characterized by symptoms like diarrhea, cramping, abdominal pain (middle, lower right), and abnormal weight loss. Ileocolitis affects the terminal ileum and the colon.
  • Ileitis: similar to ileocolitis, ileitis affects the ileum. However, it does not affect the large intestine. The symptoms are largely identical to ileocolitis. Severe cases of ileitis can lead to complications, such as fistulas or inflammatory abscess in the abdomen (lower right).
  • Gastroduodenal Crohn’s Disease: this type of Crohn’s disease affects the stomach and duodenum. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and weight loss.
  • Jejunoileitis: jejunoileitis results in patchy areas of inflammation in the jejunum. Symptoms include varying degrees of abdominal pain, cramping after meals, diarrhea, and fistulas.
  • Crohn’s (Granulomatous) Colitis: this type of Crohn’s disease affects the colon only. Symptoms include diarrhea, rectal bleeding, abscess, fistulas, ulcers, skin lesions, and joint pains.

Causes of Crohn’s Disease

Crohn’s disease affects equal numbers of men and women. It most commonly affects individuals between the ages of 15 and 35. Diet and stress can worsen the symptoms of Crohn’s disease, but they don’t contribute to the formation of the disease. The latest studies trace the cause of Crohn’s disease to hereditary, genetic, and environmental factors. 

People with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) can develop symptoms of Crohn’s disease when their immune system mistakenly identifies harmless bacteria as aggressors and attacks them. This causes continuous inflammation, ulceration, and increased intestinal wall thickness. It can also be passed down through genetics. 

Treatment Options

There are multiple treatment options for individuals suffering from Crohn’s disease. Your GI surgeon in Tampa can develop a personalized treatment plan for your condition, including:

  • Medication: some medications can be prescribed to help patients regulate abnormal immune responses and the resulting inflammation. This can help mitigate common symptoms and allow time for your intestinal tissues to recover.
  • Diet and Nutrition: maintaining a healthy diet can also help reduce certain symptoms. Individuals with Crohn’s disease are typically advised to limit the amount of dairy, spicy foods, and high-fiber foods they ingest. Crohn’s disease can have a detrimental effect on your ability to absorb protein, water, vitamins, minerals, and more. Therefore, individuals should focus on maximizing their intake of beneficial nutrients.
  • Surgery: Approximately 70 percent of people with Crohn’s disease will need to undergo surgery at some point. Generally, surgery is suggested once medications have become ineffective. Dr. Clark can perform a surgical resection utilizing the latest in robotic-assisted surgery to remove the diseased portion of the bowel.

To schedule a consultation with Whalen Clark, M.D., the foremost gastrointestinal surgeon in Tampa, please contact us today.

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