What Is Crohn’s Disease?
Crohn’s disease is a form of inflammatory bowel disease known medically as regional enteritis. It can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract and may vary greatly in severity. The symptoms of this disease are typically confined to the gastrointestinal tract, but it can also produce systemic symptoms in severe cases. Physicians usually treat Crohn’s with medication, although it may require surgery in extreme cases.
The symptoms are usually mild at first and become severe as the amount of affected tissue increases. The symptoms are often intermittent, with flare-ups that are followed by a period of remission.
The first symptom of Crohn’s is often abdominal pain. This is more common when the bowel narrows suddenly, which is known medically as stenosis. This disease can also cause nausea and vomiting when it is accompanied by severe stenosis. Crohn’s disease may also cause inflammation of the bile ducts, a condition called cholangitis.
Crohn’s causes diarrhea, especially when it affects a large portion of the gastrointestinal tract. Crohn’s that affects the small intestine typically produces a large volume of watery feces. It is more likely to produce a smaller volume of solid feces when this disease affects the colon.
The causes of Crohn’s disease include at least 30 genetic risk factors that contribute towards a deficient immune system. Each specific factor increases the risk of this disease slightly, so a patient typically must have multiple risk factors before the condition becomes symptomatic. Patients with a family history of Crohn’s are 20 times more likely to have this disease. Genes that control a person’s genetic propensity for Crohn’s disease include the NOD2 gene and the XBP1 gene.
Crohn’s is more common in industrialized parts of the world, which suggests an environmental component. This disease is more likely to occur in patients who eat more animal protein and milk protein. Crohn’s disease is less likely in patients who eat more vegetable proteins. Hormonal birth control dramatically increases the incidence of Crohn’s disease and smoking is also a significant factor.
Acute cases of Crohn’s disease may require medication to treat infection, such as antibiotics. Antibiotics that can treat infection from Crohn’s should not be used continuously since this can also decrease the population of beneficial bacteria. These medications may also encourage the growth of pathogens like Clostridium difficile.
Drugs used to treat the inflammation caused by Crohn’s include aminosalicylates and corticosteroids. Aminosalicylates such as 5-aminosalicylic acid are more suitable for long-term use due to their relatively mild side effects. Corticosteriods such as budesonide and prednisone are generally more effective for treating inflammation, but they cannot be used long term since the side effects of corticosteroids are generally more severe than those of aminosalicylates.
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Article Source What Is Crohn’s Disease?: Russell John Clarke