New Delhi: Much remains mysterious about the factors that lead to Crohn's disease, an inflammatory bowel disease that afflicts former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram who has lost 7.5 kg - from 73.5 kg to 66 kg - since his arrest on August 21.
Crohn's disease causes inflammation in the digestive tract and can lead to abdominal pain, severe diarrhoea, fatigue, weight loss and malnutrition, the doctors said.
"It can affect any part of GI tract but small and large intestine are more vulnerable. In the long run it affects eyes, skin and joints of the body as well. Fever, weight loss, pain in lower abdomen, vomiting are the early symptoms of this disease," Manik Sharma, Associate Director, Department of Gastroenterology, Jaypee Hospital in Noida, told IANS.
"There is no specific cause of Crohn's disease," he said.
Crohn's disease could be diagnosed by barium X-ray of the small bowel, and colonoscopy and CT scan.
"Every patient's case might differ when it comes to the treatment of Crohn's disease, as in some of the cases it may need medication and in some cases it may even need bowel rest and surgery as well. It entirely depends upon the situation of the patient," Sharma explained.
Chidambaram, 74, in judicial custody till November 13 since his arrest on August 21, was taken to the hospital four times while in custody.
According to Surajit Chatterjee, Senior Consultant, Internal Medicine at Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals in New Delhi, the disease occurs in flare ups and sometimes has periods of remission and the symptoms can range from mild to moderate to severe.
"Dietary and lifestyle changes can help you manage your symptoms and lessen your flare-ups. Making certain changes to your diet, reducing your stress levels, and exercising can help you manage Crohn's. Treat it with immune-modulating drugs," Chatterjee suggested.
"Sometimes surgery e.g. removing a severely inflamed or narrowed (very rarely bleeding) length of bowel is needed," he added.
"If your diarrhoea (only if it's bloody) persists for more than seven days, it is necessary for you to see a doctor for further diagnosis," the doctor added.
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, Crohn's can also cause joint pain and skin problems, and children with the disease may have growth problems.