What is Crohn’s Disease?
Crohn’s disease is a chronic disease that can causes inflammation of the entire digestive tract (from the mouth to the anus), but most commonly affects the small intestines. It is not the same thing as Ulcerative Colitis, but both are known as inflammatory bowel diseases. It tends to run in families, affects men and women equally, and can occur at any time but most often starts between 15 and 35 years of age.
Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease:
Crohn’s disease is unpredictable. Over time, your symptoms may change in severity, or change altogether. You may go through periods of remission—when you have few or no symptoms. Or your symptoms may come on suddenly, without warning. The symptoms of Crohn’s stem from the inflammation, which may cause mild to severe:
- Abdominal pain.
- Rectal bleeding.
- Frequent diarrhea.
- Reduced appetite.
Causes of Crohn’s Disease:
The exact cause is unknown; however, researchers believe the following factors may contribute to the development of Crohn’s:Overactive intestinal immune system
One cause may be an abnormal immune reaction in the intestines. Bacteria or viruses may mistakenly trigger the immune system to attack the inner lining of the large intestines, causing inflammation and other symptoms.Genetics
Ulcerative colitis appears to run in families. Those with UC may have certain abnormal genes, but the link between the two isn’t completely clear.Environmental Factors
Some studies suggest certain environmental factors, such as consuming NSAID drugs, antibiotics, oral contraceptives, and a high-fat diet may increase the chance of developing UC. Many people believe certain foods or stressors can cause or retrigger UC symptoms as well. However, the evidence linking environmental factors and UC is low and more research is needed.