Have you or a loved one been diagnosed with Crohn's Disease? Then, you know how difficult the GI symptoms can be to manage. At Mid North Gastroenterologists in Chicago, IL Dr. Stephen Steiner and his team care for Crohn's patients from diagnosis to treatment to long-term management. Yes, it is possible to live well with this form of inflammatory bowel disease.
FAQs about Crohn's disease
Just what is Crohn's Disease?
Crohn's Disease is an autoimmune GI problem which creates inflammation all through the digestive tract, but particularly in the colon, or large intestine. These inflammatory changes cause dire symptoms that may arise suddenly and then abate--sometimes disappearing for long periods of time.
Symptoms typically send sufferers to their primary care physician and then to Mid North Gastroenterologists in Chicago. Signs of Crohn's Disease include:
- Abdominal cramping
- Nausea and vomiting
- Rectal bleeding
- Poor appetite
- Unintended weight loss
Who develops it?
Mostly, young adults between the ages of 18 and 35 do, says the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America. Smoking seems to increase symptoms, as do stress and some dietary choices, such as nuts and other highly fibrous foods. In fact, Healthline reports that tobacco users develop Crohn's Disease at twice the rate of non-smokers and that smokers have more drastic symptoms.
How is it diagnosed and treated?
A complete history and physical is in order, as well as blood work, a review of symptoms and imaging tests such as:
- CT scan of the abdomen
With a definitive diagnosis, your gastroenterologist can tailor a care plan to reduce symptoms. There is no cure for Crohn's, but it can be managed with dietary strategies, stress reduction, and steroidal medications and antibiotics (if needed).
Unfortunately, some people have colon damage and must have some or all of their bowel removed. Surgery is an option when less invasive measures don't relieve symptoms.
My symptoms come and go. How can I predict and manage them?
It's possible to track stressors on your GI tract, and therefore, to manage them. Keep a diary of what foods you eat, and eliminate those which seem to cause a flare-up. Stop all tobacco, and strictly limit alcohol and caffeine. Fatty foods and soda pop seem to irritate the colon as well.
Find out more
It's your health, and you can take control of it even with a diagnosis of Crohn's Disease. If you have difficult lower GI symptoms that persist, please contact Mid North Gastroenterologists for a consultation with Dr. Stephen Steiner. He helps many Chicago-area Crohn's patients live well with this chronic condition. Phone his office team at (773) 334-7581.
A colonoscopy is the most effective way to detect colorectal cancer early.
Colorectal cancer is the third most common type of cancer diagnosed in the US, according to the American Cancer Society. They’ve also estimated that there will be around 104,610 cases of colon cancer and 43,340 cases of rectal cancer in the US in 2020 alone. So, how can you reduce your risk for colorectal cancer? By turning to our Chicago gastroenterologist, Dr. Stephen Steiner, for routine colon cancer screenings.
When should I get screened?
It’s recommended that all healthy individuals, both men and women, should start getting screened by the age of 50; however, if you are at an increased risk for colorectal cancer, our Chicago GI doctor may recommend being screened earlier (usually around age 45). Risk factors for colorectal cancer include:
- A family history of colon polyps or colorectal cancer
- A personal history of colon polyps or inflammatory bowel disease (e.g. Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis)
- Heavy alcohol consumption
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Poor diet
If you have certain risk factors you may want to talk with our gastroenterologist about when you should start getting routine colonoscopies.
How often do I need to get a colonoscopy?
If your results come back normal and there are no polyps present, then you may not need another colonoscopy for 10 years. Most people can stop coming in for routine colonoscopies over the age of 75. If you are at an increased risk for cancer, then you may need to come in every five years for a repeat colonoscopy.
What does a colonoscopy look for?
During a colonoscopy, the patient is placed under twilight sleep to make them feel comfortable and relaxed throughout the procedure. From there, a thin flexible tube with a camera at the end (known as an colonoscope) is gently inserted into the rectum and guided through the small intestines.
A screen will show images from the camera in real-time so that Dr. Steiner can look at the lining of the small intestines to look for polyps or other warning signs of colorectal cancer. If a polyp is found, it can be removed during your colonoscopy. A colonoscopy only takes about 30 minutes, but it may take longer if polyps are detected and removed. The patient can go home immediately after the procedure, and they will receive their test results usually within 2-3 weeks.
Concerned? Give us a call
Mid North Gastroenterologists in Chicago wants to make sure that everyone starts getting colonoscopies starting at age 50. If you want to protect yourself from colorectal cancer, this screening is the best tool. Call our office today at (773) 334-7581 to schedule a colon cancer screening.
Crohn's disease can cause chronic pain and inflammation in your gastrointestinal tract. Although the inflammatory bowel disease can't be cured, treatments and lifestyle changes can help you avoid flare-ups.
Inflammation can cause a range of problems
When your digestive tract is inflamed, you may experience multiple symptoms, in addition to abdominal pain. They include:
- Frequent diarrhea
- Ulcers in the digestive tract
- Weight loss
- Lack of appetite
- Lack of energy
- Rectal bleeding
- Blood in your stool
- Sores in your mouth
- Fistulas around your anus
If you have moderate to severe Crohn's disease, persistent vomiting and diarrhea, anemia, severe weight loss, abscesses, and intestinal abscesses can occur. The disease can be life-threatening in some cases.
What causes Crohn's disease?
No one is sure what causes Crohn's disease, although immune system issues or genetics may make you more susceptible. You may be more likely to develop the disease if you are younger than 30, smoke, have a family history of Crohn's disease, or are white or of Ashkenazi Jewish descent.
How is Crohn's disease treated?
Reducing inflammation is the goal of Crohn's disease treatment. Your doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications and immune system suppressors that prevent your immune system from triggering an inflammatory response. Antibiotics may be recommended if you have an infection or a fistula. Because people who have Crohn's disease can experience diarrhea 10 or more times per day, anti-diarrheal medication can be helpful. Frequent diarrhea can deplete nutrients. Your doctor may recommend B12 shots or iron, vitamin D and calcium supplements to prevent malnutrition.
If your symptoms are severe, your doctor may recommend a feeding tube for a period of time to give your bowel plenty of time to rest and recover. Sometimes, Crohn's disease can damage your digestive tract. Surgery may be needed to remove the damaged portions or open up areas of the intestines that have narrowed.
Eating several small meals during the day and limiting low-fat, dairy and high-fiber foods may also help you manage your symptoms. Prompt treatment and dietary changes may reduce flare-ups and might even lead to a remission of your syndrome.
Although living with Crohn's disease can be challenging at times, medical treatments and lifestyle changes can help you avoid the most serious consequences.
Welcome to the Blog of Mid North Gastroenterologists, Ltd
Mid North Gastroenterologists, Ltd would like to welcome you to our blog. Here you will find informative and useful postings about gastroenterology and our practice.
At Mid North Gastroenterologists, Ltd we believe that educated patients are better prepared to make decisions regarding the health of their digestive system. Our blog was designed to provide you with the latest gastroenterology developments and valuable health advice from our dedicated team.
Mid North Gastroenterologists, Ltd hopes you find our blog to be a great resource for keeping up to date with proper digestive health care and treatments.
We welcome all comments and questions.
-- Mid North Gastroenterologists, Ltd
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