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Gastroenterology Blog

Celiac Vs. Crohn’s: Differences and Similarities

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Fri, Jun 22, 2018 @ 12:59 PM

celiac vs crohn'sWe all experience stomach pains from time to time and normally pay little mind to it. It could have been caused by something you ate, how much you ate, a night of drinking, nervousness, or countless other reasons. However, if you feel like you have a persisting problem that leaves you running to the bathroom or experiencing painful stomach cramps day after day, you may have a chronic condition like Crohn’s or Celiac disease.

These conditions are very similar in nature and it is possible for one individual to have both conditions; however, there are also some key differences which distinguish the two.

What is Celiac Disease?

Celiac is an autoimmune disorder in which the body does not properly digest a protein called gluten that is found in grains like barley, wheat, and rye.  Instead of processing it normally, the body recognizes gluten as something foreign and triggers the immune system to attack the small intestine. 

A strict gluten-free diet is the best treatment for celiac disease. This means eliminating foods made from or processed with gluten, including bread, corn, rice, soy, beans, flax, oats, pasta, flour, cereals, and processed lunch meats.

What is Crohn’s Disease?

Crohn’s disease, on the other hand, is an inflammatory bowel condition. There is no known cause for Crohn’s other than potential links to genetics and family history.  By causing inflammation in the lining of the digestive tract, Crohn’s leads to complications that are not typical symptoms of celiac disease.  These complications are typically how doctors can distinguish between the diseases before any real diagnostic tests are run.

In addition to the digestive tract, Crohn’s often causes inflammation in the eyes and joints as well. Sufferers may also notice bloody stool, as the disease normally causes the most inflammation in the lower half of the digestive tract.

There are, of course, dietary restrictions which can help manage Crohn’s disease. Many patients cannot eat dairy products such as milk, cheese, yogurt, and butter and find it helpful to eat foods that are high in fiber like broccoli, spinach, apples, and other fruits and veggies. Some people with Crohn’s opt for a gluten free diet as well, but there is currently no research that supports the necessity of a gluten free diet for those afflicted with Crohn’s disease.  Treatments for Crohn’s includes medication and sometimes surgery for severe cases where other options have failed.

Have a Doctor Distinguish Between Celiac or Crohn’s 

If you feel that you are suffering from either condition, don’t guess.  Instead, schedule a visit with your general practitioner. They will often refer you to a specialist such as those at Gastroenterology Associates for a definitive diagnosis and development of an appropriate course of treatment. You may also schedule an appointment with a gastroenterologist yourself by contacting our Baton Rouge office.

Crohn's Disease Gastroenterology Associates Baton Rouge

Topics: Celiac Disease, Crohn's Disease

Baton Rouge GI Answers Common Crohn's Questions

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Wed, Jul 06, 2016 @ 12:31 PM

BATON_ROUGE_GI_ANSWERS_COMMON_CROHNS_QUESTIONS.jpegUlcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease—two forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)—affect 1.4 million people in the United States alone. Despite the prevalence of these diseases, very little about their causes, symptoms, or treatment options—especially pertaining to Crohn’s disease— is public knowledge, so we’ve broken down four commonly asked questions regarding Crohn’s disease. 

Let’s get started.

What are the symptoms of Crohn’s disease?

  • Persistent 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

What causes Crohn’s disease?

While there are several theories as to the cause of Crohn’s disease, none have been proven yet. However, scientists theorize that Crohn’s disease is caused by a combination of the following factors:

  • Immune system problems
  • Genetics
  • Environmental factors

People with Crohn’s disease generally have immune systems that react problematically, which is why Crohn’s is generally considered an autoimmune disease. The immune system may mistakenly defend the body against healthy gut microbes or may continue to defend the body once the invasive microbes have been eradicated. The inflammatory defense response can become chronic and result in ulcers or other intestinal injuries.

How many people in the United States have Crohn’s disease?

According to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA), approximately 700,000 Americans have diagnosed cases of Crohn’s disease. Crohn’s—along with other Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBDs)—is diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 30.

Is there a cure?

There is currently no cure for Crohn’s disease. However, with the proper care, you and your gastroenterologist can create a treatment plan to manage your symptoms and prevent flare-ups. Commonly, Crohn’s is treated with medication. While complications may occur and surgery is a possibility, we have good treatment options now that help to keep the disease in check and prevent long term complications. Once the disease is controlled with medications, you can lead a normal life again.  It is important to have early diagnosis, appropriate treatment and follow-up is essential, along with compliance with treatment regimen.

If you or a loved one is living with Crohn’s, consult with your gastroenterologist today and ensure that you’re properly managing your symptoms.



Topics: Crohn's Disease

How Do I Know If I Have IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease)?

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Tue, Dec 15, 2015 @ 3:32 PM

IBD_abdominal_pain-451672-edited.jpgInflammatory bowel disease (IBD) refers to a number of conditions characterized by inflammation of the large and/or small intestines, with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis (UC) representing the most common forms. Left untreated, IBD can lead to severe complications, as well as substantial pain and discomfort. Below, we will look at some of the symptoms of IBD, as well as how the condition is diagnosed.

What is Inflammatory Bowel Disease?

Inflammatory bowel disease is a condition in which the bowels become inflamed, red, and swollen. It is thought to be an autoimmune condition, in which the immune system attacks the body, leading to inflammation. Crohn's disease is a form of the condition which can affect the entire digestive tract, as far up as the esophagus to as far down as the rectum. Ulcerative colitis, in contrast, affects only the colon. Left untreated, IBD can cause serious damage to the digestive tract, along with serious malnutrition and/or dehydration.

Signs and Symptoms of IBD

The symptoms of IBD can vary depending on which form of the condition the patient has. The most common symptoms include:

  • Diarrhea - Loose, frequent stools are characteristic of both UC and Crohn's disease. Patients with UC may have up to 20 loose stools a day. 
  • Bloody stools - Blood in the stool is commonly associated with UC. It can also be a sign of other serious gastrointestinal conditions such as cancer. Any bloody stools merit investigation, regardless.
  • Pain - Pain and cramping are very common with IBD, and can sometimes be severe. 
  • Fatigue - People with IBD often feel fatigued, due to the immune response and the malnutrition associated with the disease. 
  • Fever - It is common for patients with IBD to display a low-grade fever of 99-100 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  • Weight loss - Because IBD makes it more difficult for the digestive tract to absorb nutrients, patients with the condition often display dramatic weight loss. 
  • Reduced appetite - It is common to find food unappealing when you have IBD. 

IBD Diagnosis

To diagnose IBD, the doctor will consider the symptoms of the condition. The doctor will then perform a colonoscopy, looking for characteristic inflammation of the colon, and potentially sampling the tissue. An upper endoscopy may also be performed, to view the small intestine and the stomach and esophagus. When diagnosing IBD, it is important to distinguish Crohn's disease from ulcerative colitis, because the treatments for each condition can be different. 

Finding a Great IBD Doctor in Baton Rouge

For many newly diagnosed IBD patients, confusion and emotion can be overwhelming.  A large majority of IBD patients find out in young adulthood that their ongoing symptoms are actually IBD. Gastroenterology Associates know how an IBD diagnosis can change a person’s life, and we seek to ease that transition WITH our patients.

IBD is a lifelong illness, but the majority of patients with the condition are able to get their symptoms under control and live healthy, active lives. If you have symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease, it is important to schedule an appointment with a gastroenterologist as soon as possible, most importantly due to the similarity in IBD symptoms to other potentially dangerous and serious conditions or diseases. Early treatment is key to minimizing the damage caused by IBD, and to allowing patients to return to a higher quality of life.  

Rather than being concerned about possible IBD, your doctor can safely and adequately rule out or confirm the diagnosis with an appropriate history, exam and tests as necessary. While all of our 17 gastroenterologists are experts in the diagnosis and treatment of IBD, Dr Casey Chapman has been researching and treating IBD patients for many years.  He spearheads the Gastroenterology Associates IBD trials and patient studies.  Contact Gastroenterology Associates to discuss any IBD issues that you might be having.

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Disclaimer: All information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not replace the consultative advice and experienced feedback from your physician.    Always consult with your physicians on any of your questions and concerns.

Topics: Crohn's Disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Opioid Use in IBD patients

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Thu, Oct 16, 2014 @ 3:58 PM

painkillers_for_IBDA recent study in the American Journal of Gastroenterology found that opioid use in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) was associated with higher mortality and greater rates of opioid abuse. This information highlights the importance of close monitoring and compliance with the established medication regimen to prevent flare-ups.

IBD encompasses a group of bowel disorders in which the bowel becomes chronically inflamed, resulting in pain, diarrhea, and other symptoms. Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis (UC) are both in this category. It is managed with a combination of lifestyle changes and medication. Sometimes, part of the bowel may be removed if damage to the bowel is severe, and patients may live with an ileostomy or colostomy.

The Problem with Opioid Use

The new study followed 4,217 IBD patients for an average of 6.5 years. The study evaluated the use of prescription painkillers for IBD in outpatient settings. 5 percent of the patients in the study became heavy opioid users, taking an equivalent of 50 mg morphine/day or greater for 30 days or longer. There is little evidence that opioids are effective at relieving pain and other symptoms in IBD patients, as these medications temporarily cause pain relief but the cause of pain, i.e. inflammation, is still present and the pain returns. Opioid medications may actually cause worsening of the abdominal pain by causing more intestinal spasms and constipation, in addition to other side effects.

The study revealed poorer outcomes for the patients who used opioids heavily. Most notably, heavy opioid use corresponded with non-cancer related mortality in IBD patients. This information is in alignment with other studies on the long-term use of opioids in IBD patients.

Along with opioids, steroids are also associated with increased mortality in IBD patients. Steroids, which reduce inflammation but come with significant side effects, such as decreased immune response, are also commonly prescribed for severe IBD cases.

Preventing Opioid Use

it is ideal to avoid chronic opioid use whenever possible. Opioids are most commonly required during flare-ups of IBD, especially severe flare-ups that put the patient in the hospital or require surgery. The same is true of steroids. Surgery is considered in this setting, when medical treatment (or lack of compliance with medical treatment) has failed to control disease.

The best way to avoid chronic opioid and steroid use is to manage the disease as effectively as possible so that severe flare-ups and complications do not occur. This is best achieved with a combination of compliance with the medications to help heal the bowel, along with close monitoring and management by the physician.

For IBD, Baton Rouge consultations are available with the Gastroenterology Associates, please click below and enter your information or give us a call at (225) 927-1190 to get your appointment scheduled.

Schedule A Consultation Gastroenterology Associates

Disclaimer: All information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not replace the consultative advice and experienced feedback from your physician.    Always consult with your physicians on any of your questions and concerns.

Topics: Crohn's Disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome

It's Crohn's and Colitis Awareness Week!

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Fri, Dec 06, 2013 @ 12:19 PM

Crohns and colitis awareness weekOn November 14, 2011, the U.S. Senate passed Senate Resolution 199 (SR 199): “A resolution supporting the goals and ideals of Crohn's and Colitis Awareness Week, December 1-7.” 

This Senate bill recognizes the individuals living with Crohn's and Colitis as well as the family,  friends, and medical professionals who help to care for people living with Crohn's and Colitis, the two diseases that constitute Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).

Gastroenterology Associates encourages everyone to join in the movement to increase awareness of and cures for Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).  With over 1.4 million Americans dealing with Crohn's and colitis, the need for continued and increased support of research on these two conditions is on the forefront.  

Help raise awareness by doing these fast, easy things:

  • Reach out to anyone you know with IBD and let them know you care
Gastroenterology Associates are a group of physicians specializing in the study and treatment of the gastroenterological system.  Crohn's and colitis are conditions affecting the digestive system and they are treated by gastroenterologists. Should you or someone you know be suffering from symptoms that may be Chron's or colitis, please don't hesitate to make an appointment for evaluation.  Some of the symptoms of Crohn's and colitis can mimic the symptoms of more serious conditions.
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Disclaimer: All information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not replace the consultative advice and experienced feedback from your physician.    Always consult with your physicians on any of your questions and concerns.

Topics: Stomach Ulcers, Crohn's Disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome

What’s the Difference Between Ulcerative Colitis & Crohn’s Disease?

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Fri, Sep 27, 2013 @ 9:37 AM

difference between ulcerative colitis and crohn's diseaseUlcerative colitis and Crohn's disease are both forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), in which the lining of the digestive tract can become inflamed. The two diseases can cause similar symptoms like pain, diarrhea, and malnutrition. However, they vary in terms of which parts of the digestive tract they may affect, as well as how deeply into the tissues they can go. Both can have a dramatic effect on well-being and health, but both can be managed using medical therapies and lifestyle changes.

About Crohn's Disease

Crohn's disease is characterized by inflammation of the tissue in the digestive tract. The condition can affect any part of the digestive tract, and can penetrate deep into the tissues, although the last part of the small intestine and the large intestine are the most likely to be affected. It can affect several separate sections of intestine. Depending on the location and severity of the condition, it may cause symptoms like:

  • Diarrhea
  • Pain and cramping in the abdomen
  • Blood in the stool
  • Ulcers
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sores in the mouth
  • Arthritis
  • Fatigue
  • Inflammation of the eyes
  • Skin issues
  • Fever

In some cases, this condition can be debilitating and even life-threatening. Severe, untreated cases can lead to a number of serious bowel issues, ranging from bowel obstruction to fistulas to anal fissures to colon cancer.

About Ulcerative Colitis

Ulcerative colitis also causes inflammation of the bowels, but it only affects the innermost lining of  the large intestine in continuous stretches, whereas Crohn's may affect deeper tissue layers and may occur in either the small or large intestines. The symptoms can vary considerably based on where the condition occurs and how severe the inflammation is. Common symptoms include:

  • Rectal bleeding or blood with stool
  • Diarrhea, including bloody diarrhea
  • Weight loss 
  • Fever
  • Cramping

In rare cases, ulcerative colitis can affect the entire colon, causing severe pain and life-threatening dehydration.  In addition, severe and untreated cases of ulcerative colitis can lead to issues like bowel perforation, severe dehydration, or osteoporosis. It also increases the risk of colon cancer.

Diagnosis and Treatment Inflammatory Bowel Disease  Crohn's and Ulcerative Colitis

If you experience a change in bowel habits, or start to exhibit symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease, it's important to make an appointment with your physician, who will diagnose the exact problem and develop a treatment plan.

Although there are sometimes clear differences between the symptoms of ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, other symptoms, like pain and diarrhea, are common to both conditions. For that reason, your doctor will perform diagnostic testing to determine the cause of your symptoms.

The treatments for both conditions are quite similar and may include:

The right course of treatment will depend on the severity of your symptoms, how much the disease has damaged your bowels, and how you have responded to past treatments. Your doctor will work with you to find a treatment that is effective and fits with your goals and lifestyle.

To learn more about diagnosis and treatment for your bowel issues, please contact one of the doctors at Gastroenterology Associates at (225) 927-1190.

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Disclaimer: All information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not replace the consultative advice and experienced feedback from your physician.    Always consult with your physicians on any of your questions and concerns.

Topics: Stomach Ulcers, Crohn's Disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome