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Inflammatory Bowel Disease - Crohn's Disease

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Inflammatory Bowel Disease/ Crohn's Disease

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a group of chronic disorders that

cause inflammation or ulceration in the small and large intestines. Most often

IBD is classified as ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease but may be referred

to as colitis, enteritis, ileitis, and proctitis. Ulcerative colitis causes

ulceration and inflammation of the inner lining of a couple of really bad places,

while Crohn's disease is an inflammation that extends into the deeper layers of

the intestinal wall. Ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease cause similar

symptoms that often resemble other conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome

(spastic colitis). The correct diagnosis may take some time. Crohn's disease

usually involves the small intestine, most often the lower part (the ileum). In

some cases, both the small and large intestine (those really bad places again)

are affected. In other cases, only the SUPER really bad place is involved.

Sometimes, inflammation also may affect the mouth, esophagus, stomach, duodenum,

appendix, or some nasty sounding word. Crohn's disease is a chronic condition

and may recur at various times over a lifetime. Some people have long periods

of remission, sometimes for years, when they are free of symptoms. There is no

way to predict when a remission may occur or when symptoms will return.

The most common symptoms of Crohn's disease are abdominal pain, often in

the lower right area, and diarrhea. There also may be rectal bleeding, weight

loss, and fever. Bleeding may be serious and persistent, leading to anemia (low

red blood cell count). Children may suffer delayed development and stunted

growth.

How Is Crohn's Disease Diagnosed?

If you have experienced chronic abdominal pain, diarrhea, fever, weight

loss, and anemia, the doctor will examine you for signs of Crohn's disease. The

doctor will take a history and give you a thorough physical exam. This exam

will include blood tests to find out if you are anemic as a result of blood loss,

or if there is an increased number of white blood cells, suggesting an

inflammatory process in your body.The doctor may look inside your body through a

flexible tube, called an endoscope, that is inserted somewhere really bad!

During the exam, the doctor may take a sample of tissue from the lining of the

really bad place to look at it under the microscope. Later, you also may

receive x-ray examinations of the digestive tract to determine the nature and

extent of disease. These exams may include an upper gastrointestinal (GI)

series,

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