Crohn’s disease is a condition categorized as an Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). It results in the tissues in your digestive tract swelling (inflammation), which can cause abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, exhaustion, weight loss, and malnutrition. It is also known as regional enteritis or ileitis.
Crohn’s disease often leads to inflammation throughout various sections of the gastrointestinal tract, with the small intestine being the most commonly affected area. This inflammation commonly extends into the deeper layers of the bowel.
The symptoms associated with Crohn’s disease can occasionally pose a serious risk to life and significantly impact one’s well-being. They can cause considerable discomfort and greatly limit a person’s ability to function normally.
Although there is no proven treatment for Crohn’s disease, medicines can significantly lessen its signs and symptoms and even result in long-term remission and inflammatory healing. With medication, many people with Crohn’s disease can lead productive lives.
Types of Crohn’s disease
The digestive system can be affected in several places by Crohn’s disease. There are various forms of Crohn’s disease, including:
- Ileocolitis: The most prevalent form of Crohn’s disease is ileocolitis. The small intestine and the colon, which is a part of large intestine, become inflamed.
- Ileitis: The small intestine (ileum) becomes swollen and inflamed.
- Gastroduodenal: The stomach and the duodenum are both impacted by inflammation and irritation.
- Jejunoileitis: The jejunum in the upper portion of the small intestine, becomes patchy with inflammation.
Crohn’s disease can affect any portion of the small or large intestine, and its involvement may be segmented or continuous. In certain cases, individuals may exclusively experience the disease in their colon, which is a segment of the large intestine.
The severity of Crohn’s disease symptoms can vary from minor to severe. Though they frequently come on gradually, they can also do so quickly and without warning. There may also be times when you experience no symptoms or signs (remission).
Typical signs of the condition when it is active include:
- Sores in the mouth
- Abdominal pain
- Presence of blood in stool
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Fistulas, which are skin tunnels that cause irritation and pain, may cause leakage near or around the anus.
Other signs and symptoms
Outside of the gastrointestinal system, severe Crohn’s disease patients may also experience the following symptoms:
- Anemia caused by iron deficiency
- Stunted growth or delayed sexual development in kids
- Eyes, joints, skin, liver, or bile duct inflammation
- Stones in the kidney
If you notice persistent alterations in your bowel habits or experience any of the following signs and symptoms associated with Crohn’s disease, it is advisable to seek medical advice from a physician:
- Pain in the abdomen
- Bloody stool
- More than two weeks of diarrhea
- Sudden loss of weight
- Fever with other symptoms
The exact cause of Crohn’s disease remains unknown, and no definitive factors have been identified as its sole cause. While diet and stress were previously believed to be contributing factors, it is now recognized within the medical community that these factors only worsen the condition. The development of Crohn’s disease is likely influenced by a combination of various factors.
- Immune system. Crohn’s disease might be brought on by a virus or bacterium, although this hasn’t yet been determined by researchers. When your immune system battles an invasive bacterium or environmental triggers, it may assault digestive tract cells as part of an unusual immune response.
- Heredity. Given that Crohn’s disease is more prevalent in families, genes may contribute to an individual’s increased risk of developing the condition. The majority of Crohn’s disease sufferers, though, do not have a family history of the condition.
There may be several risk factors for Crohn’s disease.
- Age. Although Crohn’s disease can strike at any age, it’s more likely to strike in youth. Most persons with Crohn’s disease are identified before they reach the age of 30.
- Ethnicity. White people, particularly those of Eastern European (Ashkenazi) Jewish heritage, have the highest risk of developing Crohn’s disease despite the fact that it can affect any ethnic group. However, African American people who live in North America and the United Kingdom are more likely to have Crohn’s disease. Additionally, the prevalence of Crohn’s disease is rising among Middle Easterners and immigrants to the US.
- Family history. As many as 1 in 5 people with Crohn’s disease has a family member with the disease. You’re at higher risk if you have a first-degree relative, such as a parent, sibling or child, with the disease.
- Smoking. The greatest significant preventable risk factor for Crohn’s disease is cigarette smoking. Smoking increases the severity of the condition as well as the likelihood of requiring surgery. It’s crucial to stop smoking if you do.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications. These include diclofenac sodium, naproxen sodium, and ibuprofen. They may promote bowel inflammation, which aggravates Crohn’s disease even if they may not directly cause it.