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Crohn's disease is more and more common in children. Not only are the accompanying abdominal pain and diarrhea bothersome, but it can also inhibit the child's growth. What are the symptoms of Crohn's disease in children? How is this disease treated?

Crohn's diseaseis an autoimmune disease that primarily affects the digestive tract. As a result of uncontrolled inflammation of the intestines, foci of inflammatory infiltrates, aphthae and ulceration appear in them. The extensive inflammation of the intestines can even lead to perforation, that is, tears in the walls of the intestine. Inflammatory lesions may occur throughout the digestive tract, but most often they affect the small intestine, or the large intestine, somewhat less frequently, or both, although the lesions may even appear in the stomach and duodenum. Typical for Crohn's disease is the occasional occurrence of inflammatory changes: diseased parts of the intestines are adjacent to he althy ones.

Crohn's disease: symptoms

  • Abdominal pain, which usually gets worse after eating and having a bowel movement. It is often so intense that it wakes the child from sleep (it can mimic appendicitis).
  • Diarrhea - stools are watery, with some mucus, sometimes blood.
  • Fever or low-grade fever.
  • There are also skin changes, arthritis or liver irritation. The child often has a poor appetite, which, in combination with diarrhea and the resulting malabsorption, may lead to the development of anemia.

The disease causes poor weight gain and slower growth. Not all possible symptoms of the disease occur simultaneously and with the same severity. Periods of recovery may alternate with bad days, which also delays the diagnosis of the disease.

Crohn's causes in children

Unfortunately, the causes of Crohn's disease are still unknown. Doctors suspect that a predisposition to it may be genetic, because it is more common in families where someone has already suffered from Crohn's disease, and it is more common among identical twins. In addition, researchers point to the importance of environmental factors: e.g. smoking in the presence of a child, possibly also past infections. Because the list of factors that increase the risk of developing the disease isincomplete, there is no effective way to prevent the disease.

Diagnosis of Leśniowski-Crohn in children

Crohn's disease is rarely diagnosed quickly, because its symptoms are not very characteristic, sometimes doctors forget about its existence, and besides, the diagnosis of Crohn's disease is tedious and relatively long-lasting. The family doctor, on the basis of the symptoms, examination of the child and the tests ordered (blood count, inflammatory markers, abdominal ultrasound, blood protein levels, liver function, stool and urine culture) may suspect Crohn's disease in the child. However, diagnostics must be carried out in a hospital, preferably in a gastroenterology department (a referral from a primary care physician is necessary). Endoscopic examinations (colonoscopy or gastroscopy) are necessary. Performing the examination, the doctor not only has the opportunity to see the intestine "from the inside", but also to take samples of the diseased parts of the intestine to be later examined under a microscope. Typical of Crohn's disease is that it takes up the entire thickness of the intestine, not just the superficial layer. If necessary, other tests are also performed, such as a chest X-ray.

Crohn's treatment in children

The method of treatment depends on the severity of inflammation, ailments and periods of improvement. Above all, drugs are administered to reduce inflammation or suppress the immune system. The patient has to take them for a long time, often for months. Sometimes surgery is necessary. By following the recommendations, it is possible to calm down the disease and give the child a chance for proper development.

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