Symptoms and causes

Symptoms and causes

What is it?

Crohn's disease is a form of ‘chronic inflammatory bowel disease’ (long-term bowel disease), in which the lining of the intestine may be inflamed (inflammation = infection) for an extended period of time.

Cause

The exact cause of this inflammation is insufficiently known, but an excessive immune response of the body against its own intestinal cells seems to play a major role. Watch this video for more information:

Symptoms

If this inflammatory reaction flares up, symptoms such as diarrhoea, abdominal pain, blood or mucus loss in the stool, generally feeling unwell, fever, fatigue and emaciation may occur. Despite the fact that Crohn's disease can affect the entire gastrointestinal tract, the most important areas of inflammation are located in the colon and in the ‘transition from small intestine to the large intestine’.

Diagnosis and treatment

Diagnosis and treatment

Testing and diagnosis

The test for the diagnosis is therefore the colonoscopy (i.e. internal examination of the large intestine and of the transition from the small to the large intestine). Often tissue pieces (i.e. biopsies) are taken to be examined under the microscope, which allows for a definitive diagnosis.

Treatment

Treatment consists primarily of medication to control the inflammation (boost treatment) and to maintain it under control (maintenance treatment). We have an extensive choice of medication available, which can be administered in various ways: in the form of pills, enemas, suppositories, injections into the muscle and administration through the bloodstream using baxters.

Smoking will always be discouraged in case of Crohn's disease.

At present, no treatment is capable of curing the Crohn's patient definitively, but it is capable of keeping the chronic inflammatory state under control.

Surgery is sometimes necessary, but is not the first approach for Crohn's patients.

Participation in a clinical study is a way for some patients to access the very latest treatment for Crohn's disease.

More information

More detailed information is available on the website of the Crohn and Colitis Ulcerosa Association: www.ccv-vzw.be and in bookshops: Living with long-term intestinal diseases (Lannoo/Terra).

Treatment centres and specialisations

Treatment centres and specialisations
Digestive Centre

Latest publication date: 23/11/2022
Supervising author: Dr Vanderstraeten Erik