Doctors diagnosed 15-year-old Skylar Brown of Ebensburg with Crohn's Disease about three years ago. "I take almost 14 pills a day and I get IV treatments almost every sick weeks," she says. Skyler adds that her medicines generally keep her illness under control, but don't eliminate all of her symptoms.
Symptoms of Crohn's Disease, a chronic inflammation of the digestive or gastrointestinal tract include abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss, blood in the stool, fever, fatigue, and joint pain.
About a fourth of people with Crohn's are under 18. It's most often diagnosed in adolescents or early adulthood.
At Blair Gastroenterology Associates, Dr. David Kerstter says, "as far as the cause of Crohn's, we're still trying to figure this out, but we believe it's a play between genetic factors and environmental factors." Patients like Skylar may have a genetic predisposition to develop Crohn's, which is then triggered by a virus or bacteria.
According to Dr. Kerstetter, "it can be a serious disease but we have very effective medications in treating it, and most people with Crohn's Disease can live long and meaningul lives, purposeful lives with Crohn's."
In hopes of improving the lives of people with Crohn's Dr. Kerstetter and Skylar are helping to organize a walk to raise money for research.
The Take Steps Be Heard Walk takes place September 18th at Legion Park in Hollidaysburg, Blair County. You can register for the walk at www.cctakesteps.org.
For more information on Crohn's Disease