Types of Crohn’s disease
Ileocolitis: The most common form of Crohn’s, ileocolitis affects the end of the small intestine (the ileum) and the large intestine (the colon). Symptoms include diarrhea and cramping or pain in the right lower part or middle of the abdomen. This type is often accompanied by significant weight loss.
Ileitis: This type affects only the ileum. Symptoms are the same as ileocolitis. In severe cases, complications may include fistulas or inflammatory abscess in right lower quadrant of abdomen.
Gastroduodenal Crohn’s disease: This type affects the stomach and the beginning of the small intestine (the duodenum). Symptoms include loss of appetite, weight loss, nausea, and vomiting.
Jejunoileitis: This type is characterized by patchy areas of inflammation in the upper half of the small intestine (the jejunum). Symptoms include mild to intense abdominal pain and cramps following meals, as well as diarrhea. In severe cases or after prolonged periods, fistulas may form.
Crohn’s colitis: This type affects the colon only. Symptoms include diarrhea, rectal bleeding, and disease around the anus (abscess, fistulas, ulcers). Skin lesions and joint pains are more common in this form of Crohn’s than in others.
The location of inflammation can migrate and change over time.
Medication: Medications are designed to suppress the immune system’s abnormal inflammatory response that is causing symptoms. Suppressing inflammation not only offers relief from common symptoms like fever, diarrhea, and pain, it also allows the intestinal tissues to heal. In addition to controlling and suppressing symptoms (inducing remission), medication can also be used to decrease the frequency of symptom flare ups (maintaining remission). With proper treatment over time, periods of remission can be extended and periods of symptom flare ups can be reduced.
There are a number of different types of medications used. If you’re interested in learning about these, CCFA’s website has a good break-down: Crohn’s disease Medication.
Surgery: Even with proper medication and diet, about 70% of people with Crohn’s disease eventually require surgery. There are several different types of procedures that can be performed. If there’s a section of the colon that is particularly bad, they can take that part out and rejoin the ends. They can also make the end of the colon into a stoma for a colostomy or take the entire colon out and make the end of the small intestine into a stoma for an ileostomy (what I have). Finally, there’s also the option for those with ulcerative colitis, to join the small intestine to the rectum and form a j-pouch, that functions, in essence, in the same manner as a normal digestive tract.
Unlike ulcerative colitis, surgery does not cure Crohn’s disease. Approximately 30% of patients who have surgery for Crohn’s disease experience recurrence of their symptoms within three years and up to 60% will have recurrence within ten years.
Crohn’s disease is a chronic condition for which there is no cure. It is characterised by periods of improvement followed by episodes when symptoms flare up. With treatment, most people achieve a healthy weight, and the mortality rate for the disease is relatively low. However, Crohn’s disease is associated with an increased risk of small bowel and colorectal carcinoma, including bowel cancer. It can vary from being benign to very severe and patients could experience just one episode or have continuous symptoms. It usually reoccurs, although some patients can remain disease free for years or decades. Most sufferers live a normal lifespan.
This post is merely an amalgamation of information from CCFA, UNC School of Medicine, and Wikipedia. Since this is not an academic paper, some of the information I took straight from these sources without worrying about putting it into my own words. I am in no way trying to plagiarize and pass this off as my own work. Image credit: Blausen.com staff (2014). “Medical gallery of Blausen Medical 2014”. WikiJournal of Medicine 1 (2). DOI:10.15347/wjm/2014.010. ISSN 2002-4436.