Crohn’s Disease

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Expert advice on the symptoms and treatment of Crohn’s Disease

Crohn’s disease is one of the two major long-term inflammatory conditions that a gastroenterologist can help to diagnose and treat. The other is ulcerative colitis.

The degree of inflammation varies from very mild to more severe. If left untreated over time the swollen, red, sore and inflamed gut wall can become scarred.

It is therefore vital to not ignore the early symptoms and to seek help from specialists that can ensure the right course of treatment for you.

Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease can include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting and diarrhoea
  • Fatigue, tiredness
  • The skin around the anus can be affected too, with abscess and even fistula formation

Key Points on Crohn’s disease

  • Long-term inflammatory condition
  • It affects any part of the gut, but typically the end of the small bowel
  • The cause is still unknown, although diet is still key to much research
  • Genes play a part in the development of Crohn’s disease
  • Environmental conditions, like smoking, also play a part.
  • Treatment is available to halt inflammation and progression of the disease
  • Two thirds of patients usually require at least one surgery during the course of this disease

About Crohn’s Disease

Although a huge amount of research continues worldwide to better understand this condition, the precise cause remains unknown.

“Crohn’s” derives its name from Dr Burrill Crohn who in 1932 first described this condition in patients being cared for at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.

The condition is a long-term inflammatory disease, which can affect any part of the human hollow tube gut. However, it is most common to affect the very end of the small bowel; the part called the terminal ileum. The second most common place affected is the large bowel or colon.

It is not considered a true ‘autoimmune’ condition. Instead, there is an exaggerated and poorly controlled immune system response to something in the gut, which could be part of, or, a product of a certain bug (bacterium) that exists in the gut.

There are environmental factors that conspire to bring about this abnormal immune response too. For example, smokers are two times more likely to develop Crohn’s than non-smokers.

A number of genes are associated with the condition and more than 70 have been identified that are involved in the development of Crohn’s.

Therefore to develop the condition you need a certain set of genes or combination of genes making you susceptible. Although, it is only when the right gene structure combines with (as yet unidentified) bugs in the gut and certain environmental factors, does the inflammation begin.

Treatment for Crohn’s Disease

Unfortunately, there is no clear agreed diet to help prevent worsening inflammation in Crohn’s. However, diet remains the centre of much research.

Some of the medicines used to control inflammation in Crohn’s include steroids, other immune system suppressants and specific antibody therapies given as an injection, the so-called ‘biologics’. The treatment is very similar, if not identical, to those also used to treat ulcerative colitis, another long-term inflammatory condition.

Unfortunately two thirds of patients still require at least one surgery during the course of their disease. Current treatments are aimed at halting inflammation very early on to prevent the progressive and destructive effects of the disease over the ensuing years.

Colorectal surgery & Crohn’s Disease

Colorectal surgeons can operate on patients with Crohn’s disease, where parts of the intestine may need to be removed. This typically occurs if there is a narrowing or stricture that is causing a blockage, which in turn can cause pain.

Crohn’s patients may develop abscesses around their bottom, and a colorectal surgeon can operate to drain these.

A fistula is an abnormal communication between the patient’s rectum and the skin overlying the area around their bottom. Colorectal surgery can operate to treat fistulae too.

Gastroenterologists and colorectal surgeons need to work closely together so that the best treatment decisions can be made for patients under their care.

Colorectal surgery

Colorectal surgery is a specialty that deals with operations relating to the large bowel or colon, and the rectum. A specialist colorectal surgeon often treats patients with cancer of the large bowel and rectum, and they remove these tumours.

These types of surgeon also look after patients who require surgery for Crohn’s disease, where parts of their intestine may need to be removed.

Crohn’s patients may develop abscesses around their bottom and a colorectal surgeon can operate to drain these. A fistula is an abnormal communication between the patient’s rectum and skin overlying the area around their bottom. Colorectal surgeons can operate to treat fistulae.

Colorectal surgeons will also operate to treat a number of other conditions including:

  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Haemorrhoids
  • Anal fissures
  • Rectal prolapse

They can also operate to treat inguinal hernias and they can remove an acutely inflamed appendix.

Gastroenterologists and colorectal surgeons need to work closely together so that the best treatment decisions can be made for patients under their care.

Book to see a specialist

For many years patients have been coming to Dr Anton Bungay for expert advice regarding the prevention and treatment of Crohn’s Disease, including:

  • Diagnosis of Crohn’s
  • Treatment of Crohn’s
  • Advice on digestive health
  • Family history and early signs

Feel reassured that you are not alone and that specialist help is available.

Dr Anton Bungay

How it works

  1. Arrange an appointment at the practice most convenient for you
  2. Dr Anton Bungay will carry out a thorough examination followed by expert advice on your symptoms
  3. If further testing is required this will be explained to you so you are always fully aware of the next steps
  4. After care is available if you have any questions following the consultation.