Thursday, November 03, 2005

Living with Chrones Crohn's Disease

This is an article written from personal experience with Chrones Crohns disease.

Crohn's is an autoimmune disease. By this, we mean, that the body thinks that another part of the body is a foreign object. Because of this, the immune system begins to attack that part of the body trying to kill it (like rheumatoid arthritis). Crohn's is a disease where the immune system believes that the intestines and stomach is a foreign object. It is reported by the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America that one million Americans suffer with Crohn's and Colitis.

Mostly, this manifests itself in severe stomach pains mainly after eating meals, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and rectal bleeding. Often, patients cannot finish their meals without pain. In these cases, a meal substitution like Ensure helps. Another over-the-counter product that helps is Pedialyte. These help the body from becoming dehydrated.

Many people who have Crohn's disease first noticed symptoms when they were entering puberty; the time is about the same for both boys and girls. For women, menopause seems to end their troubles with Crohn's. Often remission is achieved with medications, but for some, there is no remedy.

If you have any of these symptoms, please contact your doctor to schedule an appointment to have a colonoscopy. A colonoscopy is a flexible scope that enters the intestines through the rectum. During this procedure, you will be sedated. The doctor can tell if there are any tears or inflammation in the intestines. Also, he may take a tissue sample to see if there are any abnormalities. A blood test can confirm if there is active Crohn's. Another test is a CT Scan on the stomach. This requires the patient to drink Barium Sulfate before the test. If Crohn's disease has been found, today there are many treatments to help the patient.

In the late 80's to earlier 90's, there were not many treatments for Crohn's. Prednisone was, and still is the most common drug used to treat this disease. One that was also available was called Rowasa, a nightly enema, which has to be retained. Another drug is called Asacol, which is the tablet form of Rowasa. Rowasa, Asacol and Pentasa are 5-ASA drugs (mesalamine). They are by-products of sulfafazine and aspirin.

In the early 60's, the use of Imuran (azithoprine) began for Crohn's began. It was originally used for kidney transplant patients to keep them from rejecting the organ. Other drugs in this classification are Purinethol (6-mercaptopurine or 6-MP) and Methotrexate. 6-MP was originally used to treat leukemia. These drugs are immuno-suppressants. The wide use of these drugs for Crohn's was not accepted until the early 90's.

There is a new drug that was just FDA approved in Aug 1998 that is called Remicade (Inflixamab). This drug is similar to chemotherapy. It is also being used for rheumatoid arthritis. For some, this is their only hope of having a normal life. Personally, this was my last resort.
When in remission, Crohn's patients can continue in school, hold a full time job, raise a family and live life as a normal person. For more information on Crohn's disease and other related stomach illnesses, visit the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America web site.
Written by someone who has suffered for 10 years with this disease.

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