What is gastroduodenal Crohn’s disease?
Gastroduodenal Crohn’s disease is a form of Crohn’s disease that causes inflammation to the oesophagus, stomach and/or duodenum (the first part of the small intestine). This type is not common - only up to around 5% of people with Crohn’s disease have gastroduodenal Crohn’s.
It is a lifelong chronic condition which cannot currently be cured and is part of a group of conditions known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
What is Crohn's disease?
Crohn’s disease causes inflammation in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. It most commonly affects the small intestine and the beginning of the large intestine, however it can affect any part of the GI tract from the mouth to the anus.
Crohn’s disease also affect the entire thickness of the digestive tract wall and may also skip areas - meaning you could have inflammation near you mouth and also in your small bowel but no where in between.
It is common for people with Crohn’s disease to be diagnosed with more than one type of the condition if inflammation is present in several places in the GI tract.
What are the symptoms of gastroduodenal Crohn’s disease?
Typical symptoms include:
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Abdominal pain similar to indigestion
What are the treatments for gastroduodenal Crohn's disease?
Treatments currently include medication and surgery. Some people have severely inflamed or damaged parts of their GI tract surgically removed. This can reduce or eliminate the symptoms, however it does not get rid of the disease and there is a risk that it will return to another area of the GI tract in the future.
Treatment may include acid suppression using a proton pump inhibitor as gastric acid can cause irritation in gastroduodenal Crohn’s.
Some people also make adjustments to their diet and lifestyle to support their medical treatment - such as exercise, improving quality of sleep, reducing stress.
What complications can occur with gastroduodenal Crohn’s disease?
- Fistulas: A fistula is a channel that develops between one organ and another so that they are connected. There are many different types of fistulas (depending on where the fistula links between). Around 1 in 3 people with Crohn’s disease develop a fistula at some point
- Malnutrition: Due to a lack of appetite malnutrition can occur in those with gastroduodenal Crohn’s disease. Nutritional deficiencies can also occur
- Gastroduodenal strictures: Most common complication of gastroduodenal Crohn’s disease. Over time the wall of the intestines can become thickened due to scar tissue caused by chronic inflammation. This can cause the intestines to become blocked, either partially or fully, slowing or stopping movement of food. A complete obstruction is life-threatening and often requires surgery
- Gastric outlet obstruction: An obstruction at the exit of the stomach and entrance to the small intestines. This can result in food being unable to pass through and can cause vomiting
- Pancreatitis: This is where digestive enzymes attack the pancreas. This is a rare complication of gastroduodenal Crohn's disease and may be due to reflux of the duodenal (the upper part of the small intestine)
- Abscess: This is where a pocket of pus caused by infection from bacteria can form in the intestinal wall, sometimes causing it to bulge out
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