An Overview of Crohn’s Disease

Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory disease that causes inflammation of the digestive tract, also known as the gastrointestinal tract (GI). The disease can affect any part of the tract from the mouth to the anus, but it most commonly affects the small intestine. It also affects the eyes, skin, and joints in some cases.

Symptoms
Crohn’s disease often causes diarrhea, abdominal pain, and cramps as the most common symptoms. People suffering from the disease also experience fever, fatigue, bloody stools, mouth sores, loss of appetite, and weight loss.

Some other symptoms of the disease are inflammation of the skin, joints, eyes, liver, or bile duct. In children, the disease can lead to delayed growth or sexual development.

Causes
The exact cause of Crohn’s disease is unknown, but there can be several causes that aggravate the condition. Immunity and heredity issues can be two major factors that can lead to the development of the disease.

A bacterium can trigger the disease where the immune system fights off the invading microorganism but an abnormal immune response results in an attack on the digestive tract cells as well. A family history of the disease can lead to an increased risk of an individual developing the disease.

Risk factors
Some common risk factors include age, ethnicity, smoking and other lifestyle habits, and diet. In some cases, certain medication also increases the risk of developing Crohn’s disease:

  • Although the disease can occur at any age, one is most likely to develop it at a younger age. Most cases are reported by people under 30.
  • It can affect people from any ethnicity, but Jewish descents have the highest risk of developing it.
  • People who smoke have an increased risk of developing the disease. Along with smoking, people who follow an unhealthy diet and lifestyle face an increased risk of developing the disease.
  • Certain medications, especially nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications can lead to inflammation of the bowel, which can worsen the disease.
  • People consuming processed, refined foods, and foods high in fat are also at an increased risk of developing the disease.

Complications
Crohn’s disease is not a life-threatening condition, but it can lead to complications that require medical intervention:

  • It can lead to bowel obstruction that affects the thickness of the intestinal wall. It may lead to the scarring and narrowing of parts of the bowel, which can block the flow of the digestive contents. Surgery may be required to remove the diseased portion of the intestine in such cases.
  • The disease can cause chronic inflammation that can lead to ulcers in any part of the digestive tract, even in the genital area.
  • A minor tear in the tissue that lines the anus can occur, which can result in painful bowel movements and may even cause a perianal fistula.
  • The disease can also cause several other health complications like anemia, skin disorders, arthritis, gallbladder or liver disease, and osteoporosis.
  • To avoid any discomfort caused by Crohn’s disease and to prevent further health complications, it is important to get early medical intervention and take all the necessary steps to treat the disease at the earliest.

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