Crohn’s Disease: Facts You Need to Know

People who suffer from Crohn’s disease, a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), are often diagnosed before they’re 30, and up to 30 percent are diagnosed before they’re 20. Crohn’s is considered a “young person’s” condition, but it can occur in people of any age, even infants. It’s estimated that 700,000 people in America have Crohn’s disease.

Crohn’s most commonly affects the small intestine and the colon, although it can impact all parts of your gastrointestinal (GI) tract. While researchers are unclear about what causes this disease, how and why it develops, or how to cure it, there have been significant advances in treatment options over the last 30 years.

crohn's_diseaseFor some, the symptoms of Crohn’s disease may be mild. For others, the symptoms may be painful to debilitating. It’s not uncommon for this disease to lead to complications that are life-threatening.

Even though the Social Security Administration (SSA) cites Crohn’s under IBD 5.06 of the Digestive System section of its Blue Book of impairments, it’s not always easy to obtain disability benefits for this disease.

To ensure you provide the proper information for your application and meet the requirements to qualify for benefits, it’s helpful to hire a Social Security (SS) disability attorney
to help you through the process.

Important Facts About Crohn’s Disease

When you’re diagnosed with any illness, you want the facts to better understand how to manage and treat it. Here is some important information you should know if you’ve been diagnosed with or are suffering from Crohn’s disease.

Testing for Crohn’s: No Instant Diagnosis

Crohn’s disease isn’t like some other conditions that can be diagnosed through a biopsy, blood test, or scan. This is a primary reason why many people can suffer with Crohn’s for many years before getting an accurate diagnosis. There are several steps that doctors usually take to diagnose an IBD like Crohn’s. The first set of steps include:

  • A physical exam
  • Blood tests
  • Urine and stool samples

If these tests indicate an IBD, the next step is to perform a scope procedure:

  • An endoscopy
  • A colonoscopy

Both of these tests check for inflammation in the digestive tract. And it’s usually at this point when a diagnosis can be made. However, if a diagnosis is still difficult to determine, the doctor may use radiology scans or imaging, including:

  • X-rays
  • MRIs
  • CT scans
  • Ultrasounds

Surgery for Crohn’s Patients

People living with Crohn’s suffer from different symptoms, and no one experiences this disease the same way. While your doctor will create a treatment plan to manage your specific symptoms, nearly 70 percent of patients who suffer from Crohn’s disease will need at least one operation in their lifetime.

However, having surgery for Crohn’s won’t cure it. Often, the disease recurs—sometimes in the same location, sometimes in another part of the GI tract. Fifty percent of people who undergo one surgery will need at least one more.

When medication for a Crohn’s patient no longer controls the symptoms, doctors may recommend surgery. This type of surgery usually involves removal of the problematic portion of the bowel.

Crohn’s Medication After You Feel Better

There are times when your symptoms may disappear, and you go into remission. When this happens, some patients want to stop taking their medication because they feel better.

However, because Crohn’s is considered a progressive disease, discontinuing your medication can lead to relapses that may occur quickly, within weeks or months. Additionally, it’s possible that your condition can worsen, and the risk of complications resets to before you resume your medication. It’s important that if you feel a need to change your medication or stop taking it, talk first with your doctor before making any alterations to your regimen.

If You Need Disability Benefits for Crohn’s Disease

If you or a family member suffers from Crohn’s disease and want to learn more about SS benefits, the attorneys at Cuddigan Law offer skilled assistance to answer your questions and help you with the application process. We also handle SS disability claims for clients who need assistance with the appeals process if their claims were denied. Contact us by phone (402) 933-5405, or fill out our online form.

 

Sean D. Cuddigan
SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska
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