Two diseases constitute Inflammatory Bowel Disease – Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease. They are distinct but similar, and both are chronic, relapsing and remitting conditions. They affect around 1.5 people per 1,000 in the Western World.
Crohn’s is a condition in which areas of inflammation occur anywhere along the intestinal tract, especially the last segment of the small intestine (ileum) and the colon. It causes inflammation, deep ulcers and scarring to the wall of the intestine and often occurs in patches. Crohn’s disease involves all layers of the intestine. In Crohn’s, normal, healthy sections of bowel may lie between patches of diseased bowel. If you suspect that you have Crohn’s disease, you should seek appropriate medical help without delay. Diagnosis is usually by means of colonoscopy and mucosal biopsy. Initial treatment to reduce flare-ups is administration of steroids such as prednisolone.
Symptoms include chronic diarrhoea, associated ‘right sided’ abdominal pain, severe fatigue, fever, weight loss, and abdominal fullness. Often the first attack seems to be like appendicitis, and many times occurs around the age of twenty. As the disease progresses, intestinal function becomes ever more impaired. Abscesses, fistulas, pockets and canals of infection can affect other organs.
The severity of the symptoms fluctuates unpredictably over time. Patients are likely to experience flare-ups in between intervals of remission or reduced symptoms.