By: Gastroenterology of Greater Orlando

Crohn’s disease received its name from Dr. Burill Crohn, the doctor that first described the condition in 1932. Today, Crohn’s disease is identified as one of the most prevalent forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and a lifelong condition as there is currently no cure. Crohn’s disease is also often referred to as regional enteritis or ileitis.

Public domain image/Darnyi Zsóka

Crohn’s disease causes inflammation and irritation of the digestive tract. The disease begins with inflammation which causes the thickening of the bowel walls, which can lead to bowel obstruction. Abscesses are also common in Crohn’s disease, along with fistulas that may penetrate the bladder and bowel and may extend to the anterior abdominal skin. Granulomas are detected in about half of the patients with the disease.

Do I have Crohn’s disease or is it something else?

The symptoms of Crohn’s Disease are common to many different conditions. The disease may cause symptoms like abdominal pain, appetite changes, anal fistulas, chronic diarrhea, weight loss, and rectal bleeding. Without proper diagnosis and treatment of the disease, Crohn’s disease can lead to complications and increased risk of cancer. The disease can cause chronic malabsorption which may lead to nutritional deficiencies. While rare, Crohn’s disease may result in toxic megacolon which will require aggressive treatment and surgical intervention.

Therefore, it’s important to determine whether the symptoms you are experiencing are due to Crohn’s disease and not another condition. Here are some conditions that may present as Crohn’s but aren’t:

Food Allergy – Your immune system can overreact to certain foods by creating a protective response. Indicators of a food allergy include abdominal cramps, nausea, diarrhea, hives, rash, and breathing difficulties.

Food Intolerance – Food intolerance is when your GI doesn’t digest certain foods normally, causing you to feel nauseous or have bloating, heartburn, cramps, or diarrhea.

Ulcerative Colitis (UC) – With Crohn’s disease, healthy intestinal tissue is mixed with inflammatory tissue. In contrast, ulcerative colitis is a chronic inflammation of the colon. Ulcerative colitis only affects the colon’s innermost lining, whereas Crohn’s disease can affect all the layers of the bowel walls.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) – IBD, which includes Crohn’s disease, causes inflammation of the GI while IBS is characterized by gut sensitivity and digestive issues.

Diverticulitis – Crohn’s disease and diverticulitis share clinical features and the conditions may overlap. Diverticulitis is characterized by the development of building sacs in the colon.

Celiac Disease – Celiac disease is triggered by an inflammatory response to gluten. The two conditions both affect the GI tract and cause similar symptoms. To tell the difference, a doctor will likely order specific tests, including blood tests and endoscopy.

To determine that you have Crohn’s disease and not a different condition, a gastroenterologist will confirm the diagnosis through tests, which will likely include:

●    Blood test
●    Stool test
●    Colonoscopy
●    Upper gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy
●    Upper gastrointestinal (GI) exam
●    Biopsy
●    MRI scan
●    CT scan

To learn more about Crohn’s disease contact Gastroenterology of Greater Orlando. We are a cutting-edge clinical gastroenterology practice that sets the standard in digestive health care.

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