Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory disease that primarily affects the small and large intestine, but may be present in other areas of the digestive tract. The disorder was named after an American gastroenterologist, Burrill Crohn, who had been the first to describe the disease. Crohn’s disease usually affects people in their teens or twenties, but there are instances where patients have been struck with the disease later in life.
The symptoms and severity of the disease differ from person to person. At the moment, there are no drugs that can heal Crohn’s disease. Most patients experience periods of relapse followed by periods of remission that may last months or even years. During remissions the symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea and rectal bleeding are diminished. The improvements in symptoms are often caused by prescription drugs or surgery.
There are instances, where without therapy, the Crohn’s goes into remission. Nobody knows why. The goals of therapy are to lead to a remission, keep it, minimize side effects from drugs, and help to enhance the general quality of life of the individual.
The drugs for treating Crohn’s disease include anti-inflammatory agents like the 5ASA compounds, corticosteroids, topical antibiotics and immuno-modulators. Crohn’s disease drugs include anti-inflammatory drugs which are meant to reduce intestinal inflammation; the way arthritis medications decrease joint inflammation. 1. 5-ASA compounds such as sulfasalazine (Azulfidine) and mesalamine (Pentasa, Asacol, Dipentum, Colazal, Rowana enema, Canasa suppository) are used directly on the inflamed tissue.
Sulfasalazine is a prodrug that is not active in its ingested form. It’s typically broken down by bacteria in the colon to make two byproducts –5aminosalicylic acid (5-ASA) and sulfapyridine. Nobody is certain that these byproducts is responsible for the action of azulfidine. The 5-ASA is well known for its therapeutic benefit, even though it is not clear whether sulfapyridine provides any additional benefit. 5 aminosalicylic acid and sulfapyridine function as anti-inflammatory agents that treat the inflammation in the colon.
The effectiveness is thought to be due to the local effect on the gut, however there are also some beneficial systemic immune suppressant effects also. But like any medications 5-ASA isn’t without side effects. Some of the side effects are extremely frequent gastrointestinal disturbances. Nausea, vomiting, gastric distress and anorexia occur in about one out of every 3 patients.
Likewise dizziness may also occur during but should be of little concern unless it becomes persistent. Additionally, there are some less common side effects such as a drop in white blood cell counts or a sort of anemia that occurs more frequently in patients with arthritis. The prospect of developing these side effects is about 6 out of every 10,000 patients. Another rare, but possible side effects include fever, pale skin, sore throat, fatigue and unusual bleeding or bruising. If you notice any of them, you will probably be taken off the medicine.
Additional side effects include headache, allergic reactions and photosensitivity.
- These side effects need medical care since allergic reactions can lead to difficulty swallowing, blistering, peeling, loosening of skin, aching joints and muscles in addition to unusual tiredness or weakness.
- Corticosteroids act systematically without requiring direct contact with the inflamed tissue. These medicines are used to reduce inflammation throughout the body. These drugs also have significant, and dangerous side effects, if taken for extended periods. You doctor can advise you best on this. There are new types of topical corticosteroids which are applied directly to the inflamed tissue. These new drugs have fewer side effects when compared with systematic corticosteroids.
- Antibiotics like metronidazole (Flagyl) and ciprofloxacin (Cipro). These medicines reduce inflammation by unknown mechanisms. Metronidazole is effective in killing anaerobic bacteria in addition to certain parasites.
Anaerobic bacteria is single a mobile organism that lives in low oxygen environments, and causes disease in the gut, liver and pelvis. Concerning parasites, giardia lamblia and ameba are parasites which cause abdominal pain and acute diarrhea in many patients. The metronidazole blocks some of the cell functions of those parasites leading to their demise.
Serious side effects of metronidazole are rare, but include seizures and damage to nerves which brings numbness in addition to tingling in the extremities. If you have these side effects, contact your physician at once, you will want to stop taking this medicine. If you suspect you’ve got Crohn’s disease, you should first consult with your primary care doctor before taking other measures. Careful monitoring and diagnosis are the secret to living comfortably with Crohn’s.