Crohn’s Disease Definition
Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease. It causes inflammation of the digestive area, which can cause abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss, and malnutrition.
The inflammation that causes Crohn’s disease can affect different regions of the digestive tract in other people.
This inflammation usually spreads deep into the layers of the affected intestinal tissue. Crohn’s disease can be painful and debilitating and sometimes lead to life-threatening complications.
Although there is no identified cure for it, some therapies can significantly reduce signs and symptoms and even cause long-term remission. With treatment, some people with Crohn’s disease can function well.
What are the Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease?
Only the latter section of the small intestine (ileum) affect by some people with it. In others, the condition confines to the colon (part of the large intestine).
The areas most commonly affected by Crohn’s disease are the last portion of the small intestine and the colon. The signs and symptoms of it can range from mild to severe.
They usually manifest gradually, but sometimes they appear suddenly, with no previous signs. You may also have periods with no signs or symptoms (remission).
When the disease is active, some signs and symptoms can be:
- Abdominal pain and cramps
- Blood in the stool
- Sores in the mouth
- Poor appetite and weight loss
- Pain or drainage close or around the anus due to inflammation of a tunnel into the skin (fistula)
People with severe Crohn’s disease may also have:
- Inflammation of the skin, eyes, and joints
- Inflammation of the liver or bile ducts
- Delayed growth or sexual development in children
- Kidney stones
- Iron deficiency (anemia)
What are the Causes of Crohn’s Disease?
The exact cause of Crohn’s disease is still unknown. In the past, it suspects to be related to diet and stress. Doctors now know that these factors can aggravate the disease but do not cause it.
It is likely that several factors, such as hereditary factors and the fact that the immune system does not work correctly, play a role in its appearance.
1. Immune System
- A virus or bacteria can trigger Crohn’s disease.
- When the immune system tries to contest invading microorganisms, an abnormal immune reply causes it to also attack cells in the digestive tract.
2. Hereditary Factor
- Crohn’s disease is more common in persons who have relatives with this disease.
- Therefore, genes may influence the likelihood of developing it.
- However, most people with Crohn’s disease do not have a family history of the disease.
Risk Factors of Crohn’s Disease
Risk factors for Crohn’s disease may include the following:
- Crohn’s disease can grow at any age, but this condition usually begins during youth.
- Most people who develop it diagnose before the age of 30.
2. Ethnic Origin
- Although it can affect any ethnic group, whites are at the highest risk, including Eastern European Jewish (Ashkenazi) descent.
- However, Crohn’s disease incidence is increasing among blacks living in North America and the United Kingdom.
3. Family Background
- If a near relative, such as a parent, brother, or child, suffers from this disease, you have a higher risk of contracting it.
- Up to 1 in 5 people with Crohn’s disease have a family member with the same condition.
- Smoking is the most significant controllable danger factor for the development of Crohn’s disease.
- It also leads to more severe illness and an increased risk of having surgery. If you smoke, you must stop.
5. Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs
- These contain ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others), naproxen sodium (Aleve), diclofenac sodium (Voltaren), and others.
- Although these do not cause Crohn’s disease, they can cause the intestine’s inflammation, making the condition worse.
6. Place of Residence
- If you live in an urban part of an industrialized country, you are more likely to develop Crohn’s disease.
- It suggests that environmental factors, including a high-fat diet or refined foods, could play a role in Crohn’s disease.
Complications of Crohn’s Disease
Crohn’s disease can lead to one or more of the following complications:
1. Intestinal Obstruction
- It affects the thickness of the intestinal wall.
- Over time, some intestine parts can scar and narrow, which can obstruct digestive contents.
- You may need surgery to remove the pretentious part of the intestine.
- Chronic inflammation can cause the chief to open sores (ulcers) anywhere in the digestive tract, including the mouth, anus, and genital area (perineum).
- Sometimes ulcers can spread throughout the entire intestinal wall and form a fistula, an abnormal connection between different body parts.
- Fistulas may appear between the intestine and the skin or between the intestine and another organ. The most common fistulas occur near or around the anal (perianal) area.
- When fistulas form in the abdomen, food may not pass through parts of the intestine necessary for absorption.
- It can appear between the intestinal loops, inside the bladder or vagina, or in the skin, which can cause continuous drainage of intestinal contents to the skin.
- In some cases, fistulas can become infected and form abscesses, which can be life-threatening if left untreated.
4. Anal Fissure
- It is a small tear in the tissue that lines the anus or skin around it, where infections can occur.
- It is often related to painful bowel movements and can lead to a perianal fistula.
- Diarrhea, abdominal pain, and colic can make it difficult to eat or the gut’s ability to absorb enough nutrients to keep you nourished.
- It is also common to have anemia due to iron or vitamin B-12 that causes the disease.
6. Colon Cancer
- It affects the colon, the risk of colon cancer increases.
- General screening guidelines for colon cancer in people without Crohn’s disease recommend a colonoscopy every 10 years starting at age 50.
- Ask your doctor if you want to have this test earlier or more often.
7. Other Health Problems
- It can cause problems in other parts of the body.
- Some of these problems are anemia, skin disorders, osteoporosis, arthritis, and liver or gallbladder disease.
8. Risks of Medications
- Some drugs to treat it that block the immune system’s functions are associated with small danger of developing positive kinds of cancer, such as lymphoma and skin cancer.
- They also increase the risk of infection.
- Corticosteroids can associate with the risk of osteoporosis, bone fractures, cataracts, glaucoma, diabetes, and high blood pressure, among other conditions.
- Work with your doctor to control the risks and benefits of medications.
When to See a Doctor
See your doctor if you have persistent variations in your bowel conducts or if you have any of the signs and indications of it, such as:
- Abdominal pain
- Blood in your stool
- Nausea and vomiting
- Ongoing bouts of diarrhea that don’t respond to over-the-counter (OTC) medications
- Mysterious fever lasting more than a day or two
- Unexplained weight loss
It that blocks the immune system’s functions is associated with a small risk of developing positive kinds of cancer, such as lymphoma and skin cancer.
It affects the thickness of the intestinal wall.