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What is Crohn's Ileitis?

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  • Written By: J.M. Willhite
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 30 October 2016
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Crohn’s ileitis is an inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Regarded as a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), Crohn’s ileitis primarily presents in the small intestine and is the most common form of Crohn’s disease. Individuals with this digestive disorder are vulnerable to a range of potential complications, including ulcers and osteoporosis. There is no cure for Crohn’s ileitis, though remission is possible. Treatment is centered on managing one's symptoms with medication and, in some cases, surgery.

Several diagnostic tests may be performed to establish a diagnosis of Crohn’s ileitis. Based on symptoms, blood tests may be conducted to check for markers indicative of infection and antibody presence. A colonoscopy is usually administered to evaluate the condition of the colon and assess intestinal inflammation. Additional imaging tests may be performed to evaluate the condition and functionality of the lower bowel.

There is no known cause for the development of Crohn's ileitis. Research has demonstrated that many individuals with Crohn’s ileitis share a genetic mutation that may play a significant role in disease development. A hypersensitive immuno-response to a pathogenic presence, such as bacteria, within the gastrointestinal tract is also suspected of contributing to the disease's onset. The regular use of tobacco and over-the-counter (OTC) nonsteroidal-based analgesic medications may also induce Crohn's ileitis symptoms.

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The severity and presentation of one's symptoms is generally dependent on the extent of the intestinal inflammation. Fluid accumulation within the bowel often contributes to acute episodes of diarrhea. Tissue ulceration and intestinal irritation can lead to intense abdominal cramping and the passage of blood in one’s stool. Symptomatic individuals may also experience pronounced fatigue and unintended weight loss.

If symptoms remain untreated, individuals may be at significant risk for complications. Ulceration can cause affected tissues to scar and thicken, leading to the formation of a fistula or bowel obstruction. Chronic or severe diarrhea and abdominal discomfort can significantly impair one's appetite and digestive function increasing the risk for malnutrition. Consequently, prolonged nutrient deprivation can result in calcium and vitamin deficiencies, osteoporosis, and anemia.

The usual way to manage symptoms is with medication. Immuno-suppressant and anti-inflammatory medications are often prescribed to ease inflammation, but they possess a considerable risk for side effects when used long term. Anti-diarrheal and acetaminophen-based analgesicss may also be given to alleviate loose bowels and abdominal discomfort. Individuals with significant digestive impairment may be placed on a feeding tube to reduce stress on the bowel.

Those who demonstrate moderate to severe Crohn's ileitis symptoms that prove unmanageable may undergo surgery to repair the diseased bowel. Surgery often results in temporary remission, but it is not uncommon for symptoms to return, necessitating additional procedures. Post-operative therapy frequently involves continued drug therapy and dietary changes to manage flareups.

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