Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease that is characterized by inflammation of the digestive or gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Crohn’s disease can attack or affect any part of the GI tract (from the mouth to the anus).
However, Crohn’s disease is more commonly found at the end of the small intestine (the ileum) where it connects with the beginning of the large intestine (or colon).
Crohn’s can also affect the Eyes, Skin, and Joints. The inflammation of your digestive tract can lead to abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss, and malnutrition.
This Inflammation caused by Crohn’s disease can involve different areas of the digestive tract in different people. But usually, it spreads deep into the layers of affected tissues of the bowel.
Crohn’s disease can be painful and incapacitating. It may even lead to life-threatening complications.
Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease
In some people with Crohn’s disease, only the last segment of the small intestine (ileum) is affected, while in others, the disease is confined to the colon. The most common areas affected by Crohn’s disease are the rear (end) part of the small intestine and the colon.
Symptoms of Crohn’s disease can range from mild to severe, and they usually develop gradually. However, sometimes these symptoms can come on suddenly, without warning, and you may even have periods of time when you have no signs or symptoms.
These Symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain
- Weight loss
- Bloody diarrhea
- Anal fistulae, and
- Perirectal abscesses
The exact cause of Crohn’s disease remains unknown, however, diet and stress have been suspected previously. But doctors think that these factors may aggravate but don’t cause Crohn’s disease.
A number of factors, such as heredity and a malfunctioning immune system, may likely play a role in its development.
It’s possible that a virus or bacterium may attack, and when your immune system tries to fight off the invading microorganism, an abnormal immune response causes the immune system to attack the cells in the digestive tract, too, resulting in Crohn’s disease.
Crohn’s is more common in people whose family members have the disease or have suffered it sometimes in the past. This suggests that genes may play a role in making people more susceptible. On the other hand, most people with Crohn’s disease don’t have a family history of the disease.
Crohn’s Disease Facts
- The cause of Crohn’s disease is unknown, but several factors have been suspected.
- Crohn’s disease is not contagious, and you cannot “get” it from another person.
- It is very much likely that Diet can affect and trigger Crohn’s disease flare-ups; however, it is doubtful that diet causes the disease.
- Researchers and medical experts do not know the cause of Crohn’s disease; however, some suspect that the cause is due to attack by certain bacteria.
- Crohn’s disease can cause ulcers in the small intestine, colon, or both, and the disease also may cause obstruction of the small intestine.
- Associated sign and symptoms of Crohn’s disease include reddish, tender skin nodules, and inflammation of the liver, joints, spine, and eyes.
- Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis (a chronic inflammatory condition of the colon) are a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
- The diagnosis of Crohn’s disease is made by barium enema, barium X-ray of the bowel, and colonoscopy.
- The choice of treatment for Crohn’s disease is influenced by the location and severity of the disease.
- Treatment of Crohn’s disease includes 5-ASA compounds and corticosteroids, topical antibiotics, immunomodulators, antibiotics, surgery, and biosimilars drugs for suppressing inflammation.
- Complications of Crohn’s disease may lead to megacolon and rupture of the intestine, painful eye conditions, arthritis, inflammation of the low back and spine, hepatitis, cirrhosis, jaundice, and cancer.
Risk factors for Crohn’s disease may include:
Crohn’s disease can occur at any age, but you’re at higher risk to develop the condition when you’re young. Most people who suffer from Crohn’s disease are diagnosed before they’re around 30 years old.
Ethnicity or Race
Although Crohn’s disease can affect any ethnic group, whites, and people of Eastern European (Jewish descent) have the highest risk, according to a study. However, the occurrence of Crohn’s disease is increasing among blacks who live in North America and the United Kingdom.
It is believed that you’re at higher risk if you have a close relative, such as a parent, sibling or child, with the disease. 1 out of 5 people with Crohn’s disease has a family member with the disease.
Cigarette smoking is the most significant controllable risk factor for developing Crohn’s disease. Smoking leads to a more severe form of the disease and a greater risk of having surgery. It’s important to stop if you are a smoker.
Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Medications
These include ibuprofen, naproxen sodium (Aleve), diclofenac sodium (Voltaren) etc…
These medications do not cause Crohn’s disease but can lead to inflammation of the bowel that makes Crohn’s disease worse.
Environmental factors (including a diet high in fat or refined foods), may play a role in Crohn’s disease, and if you live in an urban area or in an industrialized country, you’re more likely to develop Crohn’s disease.