Crohn's Disease Q & A
Inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis affect as many as 1.6 million Americans. The symptoms of Crohn’s disease are often quite hard to live with, and that’s why you need the support of a gastroenterology specialist to reclaim your life. At the practice of leading gastroenterologist Jan J. Shim, MD, in the Upper East Side of Manhattan, New York, and an additional Fort Lee, New Jersey, location, Dr. Shim regularly treats Crohn’s disease patients to help them live their best life. Book an appointment online or by phone today.
What is Crohn's disease?
Crohn's disease is a serious disease affecting anywhere from your mouth to your anus. Sometimes it can affect other organs outside of gastrointestinal tracts. It causes digestive tract inflammation and commonly leads to uncomfortable symptoms such as:
- Abdominal discomfort or pain
- Chronic fatigue
- Unexplained weight loss
- Blood in your stool
- Fistula, an abnormal skin tunnel causing drainage around the anus
Severe Crohn's disease can cause skin, eye, joint, and liver inflammation, along with other very damaging problems. If untreated, Crohn's disease can potentially incapacitate you and lead to life-threatening complications.
What caused my Crohn’s disease?
The cause of Crohn’s disease isn’t known. Once, diet and stress were thought to be the causes of Crohn’s disease, but research now indicates that those things make Crohn’s flare-ups worse but don’t actually cause them.
Today, medical experts believe that multiple factors, including genetics and immune system malfunction, likely contribute to the development of Crohn’s disease. Other factors like smoking and taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may also contribute.
How do you diagnose Crohn's disease?
Crohn's disease diagnosis can be complex because there's not a single definitive test for it. Dr. Shim may perform blood tests and procedures like a colonoscopy or other types of endoscopy, along with careful symptom analysis, to diagnose your Crohn's disease.
Is Crohn's disease the same as irritable bowel syndrome?
No. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and Crohn's disease are two distinct conditions. IBS is a gastrointestinal tract disorder. Crohn's disease is an inflammatory bowel disease that causes inflammation and damage to your bowel wall and other related problems like sores and intestinal narrowing. While both are uncomfortable and frustrating, Crohn's disease is more serious and damaging to your body.
How is Crohn’s disease different from ulcerative colitis?
Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are the primary types of inflammatory bowel disease. They cause similar symptoms, but there are some distinct differences. While Crohn’s disease typically occurs anywhere from your mouth to your anus (and possibly elsewhere), ulcerative colitis only occurs in your colon.
Another key difference is that Crohn’s disease sufferers often have healthy intestine sections interspersed with highly inflamed sections. But, with ulcerative colitis, your whole colon is inflamed. Crohn’s disease can occur in every layer of your colon walls, while ulcerative colitis affects only the inner part of your colon lining.
Of the two diseases, Crohn’s disease is the more severe, but there’s no doubt that both ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease can be extremely uncomfortable and frustrating for sufferers.
How is Crohn's disease treated?
Dr. Shim takes a whole-body approach to Crohn's disease treatment, which typically means a combination treatment approach. Your treatment may include medication to suppress inflammation and decrease the frequency of flare-ups.
Additionally, dietary changes may help you reduce symptoms, restore optimal nutrient balance, and encourage your body to heal faster. If conservative care doesn't relieve your symptoms, you may need surgery at some point. Around 50% of Crohn's disease sufferers require surgery.
Jan J. Shim, MD, treats Crohn’s disease sufferers on a regular basis and is regarded as an expert in the field. To get capable and compassionate Crohn’s care from Dr. Shim, call the office or use the online appointment tool now.
The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.