November is Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Month — Learn the Facts

Whether you suffer from Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis or know someone who does, you’re probably familiar with how difficult a subject it can be to discuss. And while the symptoms for each disease are not exactly dinner conversation, they are too serious to ignore.

Ajax chiropractors Dr. John Noble and Dr. Mark Fera help many of their patients manage the symptoms of Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis. Since November is Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Month, they would like to take this opportunity to provide valuable information and the facts about each disease.

Crohn’s Disease
Crohn’s disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that can damage the lining of any part of the digestive system, including the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, rectum, or anus. This inflammatory disease most often affects the small intestine, especially a portion known as the terminal ileum.

Crohn’s disease causes inflammation, sores, bleeding and scarring of the walls of the digestive system. The inflammation occurs in patches, and can penetrate deep into the walls of the digestive system. Patches of inflammation are interspersed between healthy portions of the gut, and can penetrate the intestinal layers from inner to outer lining. It can also affect the mesentery, which is the network of tissue that holds the small bowel to the abdomen and contains the main intestinal blood vessels and lymph glands.

  • In 2008, $141 million was spent on prescription drugs for the treatment of Crohn’s disease.
  • The majority of Crohn’s patients will require hospitalization at some point and more than half will require surgery.
  • Worldwide, there are 177 pharmaceutical products indicated for Crohn’s and 53 pharmaceutical products in clinical trials.
  • More than 110,000 people in Canada are affected by Crohn’s disease, 1 out of every 20 patients is hospitalized.
  • Crohn’s can affect people at any age, and it is usually diagnosed when people are between 15 to 25 years old or 45 to 55 years old.
  • The disease can have a devastating impact on people lives.
  • Patients with moderate to severe Crohn’s have an increased risk of premature death similar to that reported for moderate smokers.
Ulcerative Colitis
Ulcerative colitis is a chronic disease of the large intestine (also known as the colon) in which the lining of the colon becomes inflamed and develops tiny open sores, or ulcers that produce pus and mucous. The combination of inflammation and ulceration can cause abdominal discomfort and frequent emptying of the colon.
Ulcerative colitis is the result of an abnormal response by your body’s immune system. Normally the cells and proteins that make up the immune system protect you from infection.  However, the immune system mistakes food, bacteria and other materials in the intestine for foreign or invading substances. When this happens, the body sends white bloods cells into the lining of the intestine, where they produce chronic inflammation and ulcerations.
  • In 2008, $21 million was spent on prescription drugs for the treatment of ulcerative colitis.
  • Every year, 1 out of every 20 patients with ulcerative colitis is hospitalized and at some point less than 1/5 will require surgery.
  • Each hospital stay costs $9,400 and the total cost for 2008 has been estimated to be $120 million.
  • Ulcerative colitis is most commonly diagnosed in people aged 20 or older.
  • Worldwide, there are 189 pharmaceutical products indicated ulcerative colitis and 53 pharmaceutical products currently in clinical trials.
It is important to understand the difference between Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Crohn’s can affect any part of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract; where as ulcerative colitis affects only the colon. Additionally, Crohn’s affects all layers of the bowel wall; ulcerative colitis only affects the lining of the colon.
Shared symptoms of Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis
It is often difficult to diagnose which form of IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) a patient is suffering from because both Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis cause similar symptoms.
Symptoms related to inflammation of the GI tract
  • Diarrhea
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Urgent need to move bowels
  • Abdominal cramps and pain
  • Sensation of incomplete evacuation
  • Constipation (can lead to bowel obstruction)
General symptoms that may also be associated with IBD:
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Night sweats
  • Loss of normal menstrual cycle
Both illnesses do have one strong feature in common. They are marked by an abnormal response by the body’s immune system.
Can Crohn’s and Colitis be cured?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for Crohn’s disease yet. As for colitis, because it’s not known what causes ulcerative colitis, they do not know the cure. However, if severe symptoms persist in spite of medication and other therapies, a surgeon may remove the colon. By doing so, the patient is “cured” of ulcerative colitis and the disease will not return anywhere else in the GI tract. In effect, a “cure” has been achieved.
To learn how Dr. Noble and Dr. Fera can support your symptoms through regular chiropractic adjustments, contact Ajax-Pickering Village Chiropractic at 905=4273202.
For additional information on Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, visit, www.ccfa.organd