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What Is Crohn’s Disease?

Crohn's Disease

  • Crohn’s disease is an illness that affects the large and small intestines most commonly
  • Crohn’s disease and colitis can occur together
  • There is no cure for Crohn’s disease, but treatment can help relieve the symptoms
  • Treatment for Crohn’s disease can include drugs to control inflammation and suppress your immune system
  • Most people who suffer from Crohn’s disease will require at least one surgery

What is Crohn’s disease? This disease causes chronic inflammation of your intestines, and all areas of your digestive tract from your mouth to your anus can be affected. Crohn’s disease most commonly affects the small and large intestines, and it was discovered in 1932 by Dr. Crohn. The disease can be called many other names, including ileitis, granulomatous enteritis, terminal ileitis, regional enteritis, and colitis. Crohn’s disease and colitis together are called inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD for short. There is no cure for Crohn’s or colitis, and you can go from remission to relapse continuosly. If you suffer from one or both of these diseases you are not alone. Between half a million and two million Americans suffer from Crohn’s disease at any given time, and it is becoming more common. This disease occurs more frequently during late childhood and early adulthood, but can start at any age. People who have relatives that suffer from Crohn’s disease and colitis have a higher risk of developing these diseases.

The cause of Crohn’s disease is still not known by medical science. There has been speculation by scientists that bacteria, like mycobacterium strains, may be responsible but this has never been proven. The disease is not contagious and can not be transmitted. Your diet may affect the severity of your symptoms, but it is not generally considered the cause. One reason that Crohn’s disease and colitis may occur is because of an activation in the immune system of your intestines, and this causes swelling and inflamation to occur. The inflammation causes symptoms to occur. This is an abnormality in the immune system, and it activates in the immune system when no threats are present. There has been a gene discovered that may be related to Crohn’s disease, and it has been named the NOD2 gene.

Crohn’s disease can lead to serious complications, including an obstruction of the bowel requiring surgery to fix. In the beginning the disease creates erosions which are small and shallow in some areas of the bowel’s inner surface. The erosions slowly become much bigger and go deeper. This can cause your bowel to become scarred and to stiffen up. As the disease becomes worse, the bowel will become narrow and may be easily obstructed. Ulcers can go through the bowel wall, and this can allow harmful bacteria to get into your abdominal cavity and cause infection of organs close by. Symptoms can include rectal bleeding, abdominal pain, skin problems, weight loss, anemia, arthritis, and even fever.

Treatments for Crohn’s disease can include a number of different steps. Different types of drugs can be given to help manage the symptoms. Nutritional supplements, diet changes, and surgery are also treatment options, depending upon the severity of the disease. Anti-inflammatory drugs can help relieve any inflammation in the bowels. Steroids and cortisone can be given to help your intestines heal better and faster. Immunosuppresant drugs can also help with Crohn’s disease, because they will suppress your immune system and make it less active. If there is a secondary bacteria infection antibiotics may be prescribed. Remicade is a new drug that can stop the inflammation response produced by your body. Nutritional supplements can help you get the nutrients needed by your body. At least two thirds of people who suffer from this disease will need surgery at some time, and this occurs if medications and dietary changes are not effective in controlling the symptoms. Part of the bowel may be removed to solve the problem, but unfortunately the disease commonly comes back in another area of the bowel.

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The information supplied in this article is not to be considered as medical advice and is for educational purposes only.

2 Responses to “What Is Crohn’s Disease?”

  1. 1
    Ellen Says:
    I really, really have to thank you for this. A friend of mine has Crohn's and it took way too long for her doctor's to pinpoint the problem. It's good to see some awareness going on.
  2. 2
    John Says:
    Thanks for the great article on Crohn's disease. I suffer from bouts of colitis that have been getting worse and after reading this article I am starting to wonder if I may have Crohn's with it. I intend to consult my doctor over this.