Chronic inflammatory bowel diseases
These include the Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
Both diseases are not infectious, chronic inflammations coming in phases affecting different segments of the colon.
Crohn's disease causes inflammation affecting all layers of the bowel wall, and can affect any part of the digestive tract from the mouth to the anus. It can cause ulcers, narrowing (stenosis) and small tunnels (fistula) to other organs and surrounding tissue.
In ulcerative colitis the inflammation is limited to the mucous membrane. It usually affects the large intestine in different expansions in length. The iinflammation begins in the rectum and continues diffused upwards.
The cause for both diseases is unknown, and it is difficult to distinguish the two of them. The symptoms vary widely. Particularly in ulcerative colitis an acute inflammation usually causes diarrhoea with blood and abdominal pain and cramps, while Crohn's disease typically shows a discrepancy between the complaints and the objective findings. The largely varying symptoms of Crohn's disease make it difficult to diagnose and evaluate the process.
Diagnosis is made through an enteroscopy, during which the expansion of the inflammation is assessed, and tissue samples can be taken for a histological examination. Crohn's disease requires also a gastroscopy, in order to exclude that the stomach is affected.
Initial treatment with medicines uses anti-inflammatory substances; acute complaints can also be treated with corticosteroids. This helps to heal the inflammation and leads to freedom of symptoms in a major part of the patients.
Only permanent care by an experienced physician can allow for a symptoms-free life with this chronic disease.