Crohn's Disease in St. Louis, MO

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Crohn’s disease is part of a larger group of conditions referred to as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). This disease is the cause of painful swelling of the digestive system. The condition typically involves the small intestine and the colon, however, it could impact any area of the gastrointestinal tract from the mouth to the anus. Crohn’s disease is unique from the other type of IBD known as ulcerative colitis.

Crohn’s disease can affect the whole bowel wall and often spreads into deeper levels of the affected intestinal tissue. This GI disease is often quite uncomfortable and can develop into more serious complications. If you or someone you love deal with the daily struggles of Crohn’s disease, we strongly suggest you contact a Specialists in Gastroenterology location in your community. Our board-certified gastroenterologists in St. Louis, MO are committed to helping all of our patients achieve optimal wellness through personalized treatments.

The exact cause of Crohn’s disease is not yet known. However, there are some factors that seem to play a role in the likeliness of being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease.

  • Immune system: It is thought that internal viruses or bacteria can trigger Crohn’s disease. When the body initiates the immune system to fight a bacteria or virus, an abnormal immune system reaction can attack the cells in the digestive tract as well. As a result, areas of the small intestine and the colon become inflamed.
  • Genetics: A person may inherit genes from a parent/or parents which put them at a higher risk of developing Crohn’s disease. As high as 20% of individuals with Crohn’s disease have a family member who also shares the disease or a different inflammatory bowel disease. It is most common in people between the ages of 20 and 30.

Typically symptoms resulting from Crohn’s disease develop slowly and can range from mild to severe. Symptoms of Crohn's disease can include:

  • Loss of normal menstrual cycle
  • Mouth sores
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Poor development in children
  • Blood in the stool
  • Fever
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Diarrhea
  • Pain or drainage near or around the anus
  • Stomach cramps
  • Constipation
  • Sudden weight loss

You should contact your nearest Specialists in Gastroenterology location right away if you notice lasting changes to your bowel habits, or if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • Ongoing diarrhea
  • Bloody stool
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Persistent and/or severe abdominal pain
  • Fever extending for more than a day

There is, at this time, no cure for Crohn’s disease, and treatment plans will be different for each individual. The primary goal of Crohn’s disease treatments are to control the swelling that initiates symptoms, and then reach and maintain remission. The best-case scenario is that the disease can move into long-term remission in a patient who receives correct care. Our St. Louis, MO provider may recommend one or a combination of the following treatment options to treat Crohn's disease.

Antibiotics: Antibiotics can help kill bacteria that initiate the unusual immune system reaction that causes inflammation. This is not a primary form of treatment but may be used in conjunction with additional treatments.

Anti-inflammatory medications: Steroids or corticosteroids can be administered to handle inflammation while implementing a long-term treatment plan. Corticosteroids help reduce swelling in the body and can be used in conjunction with immune system suppressors.

Long-term anti-inflammatory therapies: These medications address the body’s abnormal immune reaction to viruses and bacteria. A partial list of the immunosuppressant drugs a Specialists in Gastroenterology provider might prescribe include: infliximab, adalimumab, azathioprine, certolizumab, methotrexate, natalizumab, ustekinumab, and vedolizumab.

Nutrition: Your gastroenterologist might recommend special nutritional guidelines to help with symptoms and aid in reaching remission.

Surgery: Some people with Crohn’s disease may require surgery to manage blockages, fistulas, infections, or bleeding if medication is not helping. Others may need surgery to remove the diseased portion of the intestine.

Medications that treat the symptoms: Specific medications and supplements might also be suggested to assist in the management of Crohn’s disease symptoms. These might include:

  • Vitamin D and calcium supplements
  • Vitamin B-12 shots
  • Anti-diarrheals
  • Iron supplements

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Intestinal blockages have been known to occur in individuals with Crohn’s disease. A blockage occurs when the bowel wall swells or thickens as a result of scar tissue and inflammation. Ulcers have been known to be the cause of tunnels that may grow through swollen areas of the bowel to nearby intestinal tissue or in some cases, other organs.

If you have been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, you might have insufficient amounts of calories, protein, or vitamins in your diet. This could occur because you may be unable to absorb nutrients from the food you consume, you suffer from an uncomfortable stomach keeping you from eating enough sustenance, or you may be suffering a loss of protein through the intestine.

Other complications of Crohn’s disease could include:

  • Gallstones
  • Kidney stones
  • Inflammation of the mouth or eyes
  • Skin problems
  • Arthritis

Crohn’s disease is not in and of itself fatal. However, if ignored, someone with Crohn’s disease may develop health problems that can be fatal. Specialists in Gastroenterology providers have access to multiple clinical studies and care programs to help manage the symptoms and better the lives of those dealing with Crohn’s disease.

Here at Specialists in Gastroenterology, we understand the impact Crohn’s disease can have on your overall well-being and day-to-day life. Our physician-led network of gastroenterologists specializes in treating gastrointestinal conditions like Crohn’s disease, and we are dedicated to delivering personalized, innovative service to every one of our patients. To get in touch with a provider in St. Louis, MO who specializes in treating Crohn’s disease, please reach out to our team today.

How is Crohn’s disease confirmed?

The identification of Crohn's disease is commonly accomplished through one or more tests. Our Specialists in Gastroenterology gastrointestinal providers may start the diagnostic process by learning about your medical history, the signs and symptoms you have noticed, and any familial history of IBD or Crohn's. After providing an examination, they may prescribe endoscopic procedures (like a colonoscopy and an EGD) and laboratory testing of fecal and blood samples. CT scans, MRIs, and additional imaging might also be utilized to diagnose Crohn's disease.

Is Crohn’s disease an on-going condition?

Crohn’s disease is a chronic, long-lasting condition that can create various symptoms among individuals. Though Crohn's symptoms may range from slight to acute, this can also differ. This condition can get worse as time goes by, and flare-ups might arise.

Does Crohn’s disease ever go away?

At this time, there is no known method of curing Crohn’s disease. For some people, the disease may go into remission when it is not in an active state. Getting treatment for Crohn's disease and taking measures to decrease inflammation could help manage the disease and minimize its effects.

Do dietary factors affect Crohn’s disease?

Dietary factors do not seem to cause Crohn’s disease. There might be certain food items that induce flare-ups or specific effects; however, these can vary from individual to individual. Speak with your gastrointestinal specialist about any potential dietary modifications you might implement to help relieve Crohn's disease symptoms.

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