What is Crohn’s Disease?
Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) characterized by inflammation of the digestive, or gastrointestinal tract. Crohn’s can affect any part of the GI tract, from the mouth to the anus, but it is more commonly found at the end of the small intestine where it joins the beginning of the large intestine. It can also affect the eyes, skin, and joints.
The symptoms of Crohn’s disease depend on where in the bowel the disease occurs and how severe it is. In general, symptoms can include:
- Chronic diarrhea
- Bleeding from the rectum
- Weight loss
- Pain and tenderness in the abdomen (often on the right side of the lower abdomen)
- Feeling of a mass or fullness in the lower right abdomen
- Delayed development and stunted growth (in children)
The exact causes of Crohn’s Disease are unknown. What is known is that Crohn’s disease is a chronic condition. Crohn’s is not contagious, nor is it caused by something you may have done or eaten.
There is currently no cure for Crohn’s disease, and there is no one treatment that works for everyone.
The goal of medical treatment is to reduce the inflammation that triggers your signs and symptoms.
It’s also important to note that the medication your doctor prescribes may depend on whether you have mild, moderate, or severe Crohn’s and/or where in your GI tract your disease is active.
Metronidazole, ciprofloxacin, and other antibiotics may be used when infections occur, or to treat complications of Crohn’s disease.
Given either orally or rectally, these drugs work to decrease inflammation in the lining of the intestines and are usually used to treat mild to moderate Crohn’s symptoms.
Given orally, as an injection, rectally, or intravenously, these medications help reduce inflammation by suppressing the immune system and are usually given to help with moderate to severe Crohn’s symptoms. Steroids are not intended for long-term use; they are best suited for short-term control of IBD symptoms and disease activity.
Given orally or injected, these medications suppress the body’s immune response so that it cannot cause ongoing inflammation.
Given intravenously or injected, this class of drugs suppresses the immune system to reduce inflammation by targeting a specific pathway and is usually given to people who have not responded to conventional therapy.