I see many patients with GI complaints. Some have Crohn’s disease which is inflammation of the digestive tract—it can affect anywhere between the mouth and the anus.
Symptoms are stomach pain, weight loss, bleeding from the rectum, stomach pain and diarrhea. With these symptoms, a colonoscopy should be performed. I have done over 2000 colonoscopies in 16 years. (I love that I can give my patients this service!) During the colonoscopy biopsies (little pinches of tissue) will be obtained of the walls in the large bowel. The pathologists (the doctors who look at cells all day under a microscope) tell me if colitis, or inflammation, is present in the cells. Other tests may be needed to evaluate the symptoms: CT scan, MRI, dye studies, or ultrasound.
There are medicines that can help the symptoms, but Crohn’s cannot be cured. Aminosalicylates can be taken by mouth or by enema (in the rectum) to help control inflammation. Steroids can be used for short times to help with flares. Antibiotics may be needed also. Immune system modulators (changers) decrease the activity of the immune system and are used if symptoms are not controlled by other medications. Newer medications like biologic therapies reduce inflammation. A tuberculosis test is needed before starting on this medication.
The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation has a good website http://www.ccfa.org
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